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Horse-head statue of Old Summer Palace comes home

By Wang Kaihao | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-11-13 14:17

Pansy Ho Chiu-king (left),Stanley Ho's daughter, and Luo Shugang, Minister of Culture and Tourism, lift the curtain for the newly returned statue at National Museum of China on Nov 13, 2019. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

A red bronze horse-head statue was donated back by Macao-based tycoon and collector Stanley Ho Hung-sun and handed over to the National Cultural Heritage Administration in Beijing on Wednesday.

The statue appeared in the National Museum of China on Wednesday afternoon and joined a temporary exhibition on cultural relics that have been returned from overseas since 1949.

First built in 1707, the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan, the former imperial resort of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in northwestern Beijing, was often referred to as "the garden of gardens" for its lush landscapes and numerous temples, palaces and pavilions. It covered a 350-hectare area, about five times that of the Forbidden City.

However, the invading Anglo-French Alliance Forces rampaged through the compound and set it on fire in 1860. Numerous national treasures, including the 12 animal-head statues, were taken abroad in the havoc.

The Old Summer Palace gradually became ruins later, which is commonly seen as a national stigma and pain for Chinese people.

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