TAIYUAN -- A donation ceremony was held Sunday for a monastery in Taiwan to return an ancient pagoda body that was stolen 19 years ago from North China's Shanxi province.
Dengyu stone tower, originally located in Dengyu village of Yushe county, Shanxi, features Buddha images carved into the four-faced tower body. The colorful piece was made in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The tower was 320 centimeters high and composed of a base, a 177-centimeter body, a tower eave and spire. It is an excellent example of Tang Dynasty stone carving and was given provincial-level protection in 1965.
In 1996, the spire was stolen and is still missing. The tower body was stolen in 1998, taken out of the Chinese mainland, and donated by a private collector to Taiwan's Chung Tai Chan Monastery in 2015. The monastery decided to return the tower to Shanxi after it confirmed its origins in 2016.
The tower arrived at Shanxi Provincial Museum on January 24, 2017.
"We really appreciate the temple's decision," said Wang Taiming, head of Yushe county's cultural relic bureau.
"The donation is an excellent example of cultural exchange between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland," said Master Jian Deng, abbot of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery.
The museum said it will speed up improvements to safety facilities to preserve the pagoda and organize an exhibition.