Ecns wire

British Museum faces doubts concerning cultural relic protection and legality

2023-08-28 Editor : Zhang Dongfang ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- The British Museum is at the center of a storm followed by the revelation that some 2,000 artifacts from the museum's collection were found to be missing. The British police and the museum failed to release photos and detailed descriptions of the stolen artifacts.

Although the museum announced on Saturday that some of the missing artifacts had been recovered, it has aroused doubts among the public as well as the countries of origin regarding its capability to protect these precious items.

The vast majority of the museum's huge collection of up to 8 million items came from countries beyond the UK.

Data published by the UNSCEO shows that about 1.6 million Chinese cultural relics were stolen from China and collected by 47 museums around the world, among which the British Museum has the largest collection, about 23,000 pieces.

Among them, about 2,000 pieces are on display for a long term, including the Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), tri-colored Luohan statues of the Liao Dynasty (907-1125), ritual bronzes from the Shang and Zhou dynasties, stone Buddhist sutra scrolls of the Wei and Jin dynasties, and other extremely valuable national treasures.

The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies collected in the British Museum is the closest copy of the prestigious Chinese painting by Gu Kaizhi. It is one of the most famous collections of the museum. It was plundered from the court of the Qing Dynasty during the Siege of Beijing by the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900.

There are very few tri-colored Luohan statues of the Liao Dynasty in the world and those collected in the British Museum were stolen overseas from the Yixian County, Hebei Province.

The British Museum has refused to return the cultural relics over the years mainly on the grounds and basis of the British Museum Act, which was amended by the British Parliament in 1963 and basically prohibits the museum from returning any of its collections.

The British leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said “The trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display.”


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