Doubt Yuanmingyuan Dragon Head Auctioned in France Expert: Not yet paid need not hype

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 Doubt Yuanmingyuan Dragon Head Auctioned in France Expert: Not yet paid need not hype


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Suspected Yuanmingyuan Dragon Head is auctioned at law by Yuanmingyuan Conservation Expert: Payments not yet completed need not be over-hyped (Source:)

The suspected loss of cultural relics in Yuanmingyuan, the dragon head of the zodiac zodiac, has attracted great attention in France.

The official website of TESSIER & SARROU auction house in France shows that on December 17, local time, 175 cultural relics were auctioned by TESSIER & SARROU, with 47 dragon heads. The initial bid price is 20,000-30,000 Euros, with related expenses. The final transaction price is 3 million Euros, which is about 23.6 million RMB.

Is it possible for the dragon head to return home?

According to the auction house, Auction No. 1-50 came from the Affrede Saint Rome family, which had never been published before. The auction house also said that the collection originally came from Mr. Robert de Semalle, who served as secretary of the French Embassy in China from 1880 to 1884. During his stay in China, he collected a large number of works of art and shipped them back to France.

Liu Yang, member of the Academic Professional Committee of the Chinese Yuanmingyuan Society and director of the Beijing Society of History, Geography and Folklore, told the cover news on December 19 that the dragon head buyer was Chinese, but the payment procedure had not yet been completed. Liu Yang said he was familiar with the buyer himself and had been informed of the matter before December 17.

Liu Yang said that as far as he knew, the seller did not know that the dragon head came from Yuanmingyuan, otherwise the price would be higher. In addition, it is uncertain whether the buyer will bring the dragon head back to China.

Is this dragon head true or false?

As for the authenticity, Liu Yang said that, based on his own textual research, he mainly identified two aspects: First, Robert de Semalle was a Yuanmingyuan enthusiast and had served as an official, so the possibility of getting the dragon head is very high.

Secondly, according to the material, he thinks that the appearance, material and decoration of the dragon head are very close to the animal head that has appeared, including details of spitting mouth, waterway, etc. Taking into account, he thinks that the dragon head is a very high possibility of losing cultural relics in Yuanmingyuan.

Reporters noticed that with the dragon head was also auctioned by Ernst Ohlmer photographs of Yuanmingyuan, as well as Chinese furniture, fan paintings, textiles and so on.

Zhang Wei, an associate professor at the School of Architecture of Tianjin University and a member of the Academic Professional Committee of the Chinese Yuanmingyuan Society, told the cover news that as a layman of bronze ware, it is not suitable to judge whether it is true or false. But from the content of the collectors story and the old photos auctioned together, as well as from the normative nature of the European and American cultural relics auction market, I think this matter is highly credible.

Screenshot of the official website of TESSIER & SARROU Auction House in France

What is the value of cultural relics?

Wang Guixiang, director of the Institute of Architectural History and Heritage Architectural Conservation, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, and vice president of the Chinese Yuanmingyuan Society, told the cover news that the animal heads of the twelve Zodiacs in Yuanmingyuan are cultural relics of the Qing Dynasty and architectural accessories, so the value of these relics is limited. On the other hand, Yuanmingyuan involves historical and national emotions. The memory of Yuanmingyuans death must be kept in mind, which is necessary.

In general, he said, it would be good to return to the motherland whether the twelve heads of beasts in Yuanmingyuan or other lost cultural relics. But he also believes that the loss of cultural relics in China is very large, and can not be expected to return to every cultural relic, there is no need to over-hype, there is no sense.

What other animal heads are missing?

The bronze statue of the animal heads of the twelve Zodiacs in Yuanmingyuan was originally a part of the fountain outside Haiyan Hall and was cast in red bronze during the reign of Qianlong. These portraits of the animal head, head copper, body stone, hollow connection sprinkler pipe, every other hour, representing the time of the portrait mouth spray water. At noon, the twelve zodiac portraits burst into the fountain at the same time. It is generally believed that the Anglo-French allied forces invaded China, burned the Yuanmingyuan and began to lose animal heads.

In 2000, Christies and Sothebys auctioned heads of cattle, monkeys and tigers in Hong Kong, which were bought back by relevant companies. In 2003 and 2007, He Hongshen, a wealthy businessman in Macao, bought the head of the pig. In 2013, the Pinot family of France donated rat heads and rabbit heads lost overseas to China.

Source: Cover News - Responsible Editor of West China Metropolitan Daily: Zhang Xianchao_NN9310