History and Culture

Return of Old Summer Palace relics delayed

2015-1-12 15:58:33 (Beijing Time)        

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File photo of marble columns looted from the Imperial Yuanmingyuan Garden. (Photo: Chinanews.com)

(ECNS) -- The return of seven marble columns looted from the Imperial Yuanmingyuan Garden, or the old Summer Palace, will be delayed because of complex customs procedures, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Saturday.

Huang Nubo, the chairman of Zhongkun Investment Group and a Peking University alumnus, promoted an agreement with Kode Art Museum in Bergen, Norway, in December 2013 to donate 10 million Norwegian Krone ($1.6 million) to the museum. The money will be used for refurbishment of the museum's Chinese art collection.

In return, the seven columns, currently exhibited at the Norwegian institution, are set to return home this fall and will be displayed at Peking University, according to the report.

However, return of the relics is raising public concern about the fate of numerous Chinese works stolen in the past.

Liu Yang, author of Who Collects Yuanmingyuan, says Peking University is not a professional heritage organization and that such relics should be preserved at their point of origin.

Displaying the seven marble columns at Peking University is the donor's personal preference, which should be respected, but not advocated, he added.

Huang said in an interview that his donation was based on a personal decision. Displaying these relics at Peking University, his alma mater, which is also part of the old Summer Palace, has significant educational value, it was added.

A Peking University expert said the relics would receive the professional maintenance necessary for the preservation and protection of such important pieces of cultural heritage.