National Treasures to Be Displayed in Taiwan

Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) bronze animal heads

Largest of its kind in recent years

Three Chinese national treasures including a bronze monkey head, a bronze ox head and a bronze tiger head, together with another 120 relics will be sent to Taiwan on November 28 for a grand exhibition in late December.

The relics exhibition, sponsored by three Taiwan-based organizations, is claimed to be the largest of its kind in recent years.

The three Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) bronze animal heads
The three Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) bronze animal heads, looted from the Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and auctioned in Hong Kong, were purchased by the Beijing-based China Poly Group for about two million U.S. dollars last year.

  • History of Yuanmingyuan

  • Yuanmingyuan, a 350-hectare imperial garden built in western Beijing over a 150-year period from 1709-1859, was one of the mostoutstanding parks in the world at that time. Emperors of several generations lived and handled the country's affairs in the park where numerous gems, cultural relics and books were kept for the imperial family.

    The park was destroyed in a fire set by British and French forces in October 1860. And in 1900, it was again looted and burned by the Eight-Power Allied Forces.

    The upcoming show of the three relics, which has caused quite astir among Taiwanese, will be held in the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall together with some historical photos of the Yuanmingyuan ruins.

    Other relics
    In addition to the three national treasures, 35 stone Buddhist sculptures and 80 bronze ware objects will be on display.

    Relics experts with the Poly Art Museum said that the stone Buddhist sculptures were all carved during China's prosperous years for sculpture, during the dynasties of Northern Wei (386-534), Eastern Wei (534-550), Northern Qi (550-577), Northern Zhou (557-581), Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907), representing the highest level of ancient China's sculpture.

    The 80 pieces of bronze ware made between the Shang Dynasty (16th century B.C.-11th century B.C.) and the Tang Dynasty (618-907)demonstrate the evolution and unique features of bronze-making in the period.


    Yuanmingyuan was the most glorious imperial garden ever erected throughout the ages, famed as "garden of gardens". The spacious garden located in the northwestern outskirts of the royal capital was actually divided into three separate gardens: Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfection and Brightness), Wanchunyuan (Garden of Ten Thousand Springs) and Changchunyuan (Garden of Ever-lasting Spring), centered around the lake, Fuhai (Lake of Happiness). Its construction started in 1709 and took 150 years to complete. The Qing Dynasty assembled the best building materials and employed armies of skillful craftsmen nationwide to design and build 40 scenic spots and 145 large buildings, in which many contain invaluable artifacts and treasures. All scenic spots were interconnected with each other by long corridors, walls and bridges. In detail

    How did the three bronze heads return home

    In 1860, as part of reprisals for alleged Chinese treaty violations during the second Opium War, Anglo-French forces sacked Yuanmingyuan, burning to the ground most of what they didn't haul away home or smash outright, and leaving the picturesque ruins that remain today.

    Cut forward 140 years to this spring. Three of the bronze heads from the Yuanmingyuan fountain come into the possession of Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses in Hong Kong, which planned to put them up for sale. They little expected the furor that would arise, as protestors stormed the auction houses and Chinese around the world decried the thought of these heads being taken from China once again.

    Popular outrage and stern, indignant government pronouncements proving to no avail, a knight in bronze armor galloped up in the form of the Poly Group Co., a state-owned holding company with fingers in such diverse pies as trade, travel, real estate and information technology. The Poly Group also collects and preserves Chinese antiquities, and last December opened a museum in Beijing to showcase their acquisitions. In an ingenious public relations coup, the Poly Group shelled out over HK$30 million (US $3.8 million) to purchase the three heads at auction.

    People's Daily Online ---