April 20, 2006:

[achtung! kunst] *archaeology* : 2,300-year-old ding returned to China

X-post from Tim 't Hart's EastAsianArch list.
With kind permission.


2,300-year-old ding returned to China

www.chinaview.cn 2006-04-11 05:53:19

XI'AN, April 10 (Xinhua) -- A 2,300-year-old bronze ding, or three-legged
tripod, returned to China from Europe on Monday to a new home in Xi'an,
capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The relic was presented to the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau
by Bernard Gomez, a noted French archaeologist and an expert on Chinese

Bronze dings were common during the Shang (1,600 BC - 1,100 BC)and Western
Zhou (1,100 BC - 771 BC) dynasties and were still used in the Qin (221 BC -
206 BC) and Han (206 BC - 220 AD) dynasties, symbolizing the power and
prosperity of a state or country.

The ding was approximately 17.5 cm high and 24.5 cm in diameter, said Liu
Yunhui, deputy-director of the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau

The body of the ding bore about 50 inscribed characters, making a record of
the states or dynasties that had kept it in ancient China. The keepers
included "Han", a state in the Warring States Period (475 BC - 221 BC);
Xianyang Palace of the imperial Qin Dynasty and Linjin Palace of the Han

The marks show that the ding was of great importance since it had been
handed down formally as an emblem of authority, said WangHui, a researcher
with the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau and an expert on
ancient Chinese characters.

A ding with inscription characters of so many states and dynasties was very
rare, Wang acknowledged.

It is believed to have been excavated in Shaanxi about 100 years ago at the
end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and then smuggled to Europe.

As with a host of antiquities lost overseas, its movements and record of
ownership after leaving China remain unknown.

Gomez spotted it when helping authenticate ancient Chinese bronze ware two
years ago and immediately recognized it as an invaluable ding.

He decided to buy it and send it back to China. He met with the owner in
Paris early this year and persuaded him to sell it so that it could be

He declined to disclose the cost, but experts say each inscription character
on a ding raises the price by 3,000 U.S. dollars and it may be worth
millions of dollars.

"I almost went bankrupt obtaining the Ding," Gomez joked.

He came to China in 1986 and has been devoted to Chinese antiquities ever
since. He set up an Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe
in 2004 to help retrieve relics lost overseas, after seeing so many Chinese
relics sold at auction abroad.

The association is made up of Sinophile culture and antiques enthusiasts,
including politicians, nobles, artists and entrepreneurs in Europe.

Recovering lost Chinese relics required a lot of support particularly from
governments and business, he said.

Chinese relics protection departments had limited funds and should seek
private assistance to retrieve the lost items, he said.

"For example, the return of the ding received financial help from a real
estate company in Xi'an," he said.

About 10 million Chinese relics have been lost overseas and most are kept by
folk collectors, according to China's Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Fund,
the first non-governmental organization to retrieve relics lost overseas.

"The ding, now called the Xianyang Palace Ding, has witnessed the prosperity
of many dynasties in ancient China and now it has returned," Gomez said.

"It is just my first gift to China. I hope that it will set a fine example
and inspire more people to help Chinese relics return home," said Gomez
(57). The ding will be exhibited at the terra-cotta warrior museum.




with kind regards,

Matthias Arnold (Art-Eastasia list)



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