"..a bardy view!"

Mixed marbles!

In an interesting twist to my Chinese Marbles post, the bronze sculptures "stolen" from the Old Summer Palace in 1860 have sold for $19m. The buyer Cai Mingchao is an adviser to China's National Treasures Fund.

Unfortunately he says he won't now pay for them. He couldn't afford to anyway! It was a protest bid and "patriotic act" he says!

As I said earlier, this is a contentious issue, but the brunt now seems to bear on French-Sino relationships, as the owner of the artifacts is the estate of Yves Saint Laurent.

(How the esteemed fashion designer acquired them has not been revealed, athough it is well known that he built a huge collection of art in various forms, throughout fifty years of collecting.)

If the Chinese want them back, then why don't they just pay up? This situation is not unlike the problem with the Elgin Marbles.

The Greeks have been pursuing their return for years, but the British Museum's argument is that had they not ended up in its hands, they could have been lost entirely by less scrupulous plunderers – akin to the Egyptian tomb raiders of yore – and subsequently never have been lovingly cared for and protected. Not to mention being available on display for all and sundry to enjoy.

A similar argument could be raised for the Chinese artifacts. After all, when the Boxer revolution occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, and the system of imperialistic dynasty and the ruling elite was overthrown – who knows what the fate of the treasures of the palace would have been?

More likely lost forever!

I really do find this whole business and behaviour of the Chinese hypocritical. Call me biased if you must, but I cannot help thinking that if the British and French had not done their plundering years ago (be it altruistic or mercenary), these priceless treasures may have disappeared entirely.

There's plenty pontificating going on by some poorly informed individuals who are not short of a bob or two – so why don't they put their money where their mouths are and cough up?

One would have thought China would be grateful for their heritage to have been in safe hands during a long period of political instability, unrest, and (dare I say) rampant state controlled communism ruled by a semi demi-god in Chairman Mao, who refused his subjects to exercise any degree of individuality, and whose only contribution to culture was his little red book!

Footnote: To the person from Malaysia who obviously didn't like this article and gave it one star – you are most welcome to leave a constructive comment in order to justify it. Thanks anyway. Criticism is not frowned upon and actively encouraged.


March 2, 2009 - Posted by | Current Affairs

1 Comment »

  1. Greetings from Jakarta!
    I like your postings, they are very interesting.
    I will be back!
    Best regards,
    Harry Nizam


    Comment by Multibrand | March 3, 2009 | Reply

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