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Tuesday, December 01, 2020, 18:38
Horse-head bronze statue returns to Old Summer Palace
By Wang Kaihao
Tuesday, December 01, 2020, 18:38 By Wang Kaihao

Visitors take photos of the returned horse-head bronze statue that was missing from the Old Summer Palace, Dec 1, 2020. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

The horse-head bronze statue missing from the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan, in 1860 returned to the site of the former royal resort on Tuesday.

The statue was one of 12 depicting Chinese zodiac animals in front of a fountain in the Western Mansion area. But they were looted by the invading Anglo-French forces in 1860. Yuanmingyuan was also destroyed in that havoc.

The returned horse-head bronze statue that was missing from the Old Summer Palace, Dec 1, 2020. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

It is the first time that a lost important cultural relic from Yuanmingyuan has been returned to and housed at its original location after being repatriated from overseas.

The horse head, designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Castiglione and crafted by royal craftsmen, is an artistic blend of East and West.

Visitors take photos of the returned horse-head bronze statue that was missing from the Old Summer Palace, Dec 1, 2020. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

It was donated by the late Hong Kong-Macau tycoon and philanthropist Stanley Ho to the country last year, and the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) recently handed it over to the administration of Yuanmingyuan ruins.

The statue will be regularly displayed in the Zhengjue Temple area in Yuanmingyuan. The temple is one of few sites from the period of the imperial resort that generally remain intact to date. 

Visitors take photos of the returned horse-head bronze statue that was missing from the Old Summer Palace, Dec 1, 2020. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

The NCHA and other departments of the Beijing municipal government spent one year refurbishing the temple to an exhibition venue, said Liu Yuzhu, head of the NCHA. 

More than 10 million yuan (US$1.52 million) was spent by the Haidian district government to improve facilities to ensure its safety.

The returned horse-head bronze statue that was missing from the Old Summer Palace on display in the Zhengjue Temple area, Dec 1, 2020. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

An exhibition commemorating the return of the horse head has kicked off at the temple, displaying about 100 items including relics and photographs.

Seven of the 12 statues including the horse have returned to China, and the rest six are now housed in the National Museum of China and Poly Art Museum.

With Xinhua inputs


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