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Friday, April 13, 2001, updated at 13:26(GMT+8)

Canada Announces Return of Tang Dynasty Treasure to China

Canada announced the return of a Tang Dynasty treasure to China Thursday.

The National Gallery of Canada has authorized the return of a relief sculpture, figure of an Arhat, by an unknown artist from the Tang Dynasty in Chinese history, Canadian officials said.

National Gallery Director Pierre Theberge told a press conference that the decision is part of the international effort to prevent illegal export of works of art.

Canadians would be extremely happy to see the return if their own works of art were illegally exported from the country, the director said.

Chinese Ambassador Pei Ping expressed appreciation of the Canadian decision, which he said will serve to enhancing the exchanges and cooperation between China and Canada in the field of culture.

According to documents from the National Gallery of Canada, the 84.3-cm-high limestone sculpture is a fragment of one of the full- length Louhans (Arhats in Sanskrit) from the Longmen Grottoes in China's Henan Province. It was sold with a collection of Chinese art in 1970 at Sotheby's, London, England. The sculpture was then bought by a private collector from the United States and was later acquired by a Canadian, who donated it to the National Gallery of Canada in 1978.

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Canada announced the return of a Tang Dynasty treasure to China Thursday.

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