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Looted relics to return home this week


08:13, June 27, 2013

Chinese bronze sculptures of rat and rabbit heads (file photo)

Two pieces of looted Chinese cultural relics, bronze sculptures of a rabbit head and a rat head, are expected to return to China this week, sources told Beijing Morning Post on Tuesday.

Liu Yang, an expert from the Yuanmingyuan Academic Committee, said the relics were scheduled to return to China in the second half of 2013, but will be returned at least two months ahead of schedule.

Liu also revealed that the two bronze animal heads will go to the National Museum of China.

The museum also confirmed that the donation of the relics is set for June 28.

The two pieces, once housed at Yuanmingyuan, or Old Summer Palace, were looted by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.

The two bronze heads were auctioned for 14 million euros ($17.92 million) each in Paris in 2009, which triggered wide international concerns and protests in China.

The French art-collecting Pinault family bought the sculptures from their previous owner and expressed its will to donate them back to China this year.

The Chinese side spoke positively of the act, regarding it as an observation of international conventions concerning the protection of cultural heritage, a token of friendship and conducive to bringing more looted Chinese relics back home.

So far, five of the 12 bronze animal heads from Yuanmingyuan have returned, but the whereabouts of five others are still unknown.

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