Experts on trail of palace's lost relics head to US

10:28, December 01, 2009      

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A team of eight Chinese experts on Sunday began their journey to the United States to trace and document relics looted from the Old Summer Palace during the second Opium War.

The team expects to be in the US for about 20 days and visit at least nine institutes there, including the Library of Congress and the Freer Gallery, a statement from the palace said.

They will also visit some private collectors, it said.

The experts will be looking for photos, documents and archive information about relics plundered from the historical site, said Chen Mingjie, director of the palace's management office.

"We hope to build a complete database of the Old Summer Palace's lost relics so we can have a clearer view of the historical royal garden, then known as the 'Garden of Gardens' before it was looted and burned down in 1860 by invading British and French armies," Chen said.

He said the team is expecting a warm welcome from institutes in the US.

Its members are experts on cultural relics from the palace's management office, as well as photographers from China Central Television, said Wu Yinghong, another officer with the management office.

Wu said the team will return to China after the fact-finding trip.

"But we plan to send more such teams to Europe and Japan later," he said.

As many as 1.5 million artifacts from the palace could be scattered around the world, Chen said.

The biggest difficulty for this project will be identifying the exact origin of relics and finding those now in private hands, he said.

"But it's always better taking action than not doing anything at all," Chen added.

"We hope the information to be collected from this project will help with future research," he said. "The visit is also a good chance to enhance international cooperation."

Source:China Daily
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