Chinese Treasures In The West
A long scroll painting by Gu Kaizhi (顾恺之 317-420), based on Cao Zhi’s poem, narrating how Cao Zhi (曹植 192－232) & his lover met, parted, with the lady died in grief & the man left in everlasting sorrow.
This is a part of the Song Dynasty hand copy.
About 120 years ago, the Eight-Nation Alliance Force conquered Beijing, occupied the Forbidden City and burned a “royal garden” that housed a large number of Chinese cultural relics. Among the artifices that looted by the Alliance Force from the palace and the garden, the two zodiac heads, designed and crafted under the guidance of an Italian artist who worked as a consultant to the cultureless Manchurian rulers, are probably of little value in comparison to those true historical treasures such as masterpiece paintings Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River (洛神赋图) and Nobel Ladies of the Past (女史箴图) by Gu Kaizhi (顾恺之) of East Jin (东晋, 317-420), Portraits of Emperors of Past Dynasties (历代帝王图) by Yan Liben (阎立本) of Tang Dynasty (618-907), as well as Five Coloured Parrots (五色鹦鹉图) by Emperor Huizong (宋徽宗) of Song Dynasty (960-1279).
According to a report prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), currently, there are about 1.64 million pieces of Chinese antiques scattered in museums and art galleries of 47 countries; as for those held in overseas private collections, the figure is ten times higher.
The painting includes 13 great emperors from Han (202BC-220AC) to Sui (581–618) by scholar artist Yan Liben of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Professor Lin Shuzhong (林树中) from Nanjing Arts Institute has compiled a multi-volume book The List of Overseas Collections of Famous Chinese Paintings, The List of Overseas Collections of Famous Chinese Sculptures, and The List of Overseas Collection of Famous Chinese Calligraphy, with Britain, America, France and Japan being exposed as the major collectors of the looted and stolen Chinese cultural relics.
A colour painting by the last North Song emperor Huizong.
Emperor Song Huizong was one of the finest painters in Chinese history & the creator of Slim Gold style calligraphy yet with little interest in and zero ability at managing state affairs. Like his father, when facing external military threats, he preferred to buy peace and fancied his goodwill could transform the greedy and militant enemies into friends.
He and his father were captured by the invaded Mongol armies, and their bodies were later burned as lamps and skulls made into wine vessels following the advice of the Tibetan Lamas, which is a common practice in Lamaism as part of its black magic.
The British Museum, for instance, has amassed about 23,000 pieces of Chinese artworks, while the collection of Chinese antiques at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the USA, ranging from sculptures, paintings, bronze articles to porcelain objects, including The Portraits of Emperors of the Past Dynasties. Currently, in Japan, there are over 1,000 museums and art galleries, and almost every one of them has held some illegally obtained Chinese cultural artifacts, with the majority of them being Tang tricolor pottery (唐三彩) created during the Tang Dynasty.
Although not all Chinese articles at the overseas museums and art galleries were acquired illegally, a great number of them were obtained through looting or other dubious methods. Between 1876 and 1928, there were as many as 42 groups of so-called explorers and researchers arrived in the northwest region of China and smuggled nearly half of the total murals and books from Dunhuang Mogao Grottos, with 13,700 pieces now at the British Museum and around 6,000 pieces in National Library of France.
When a director from America’s Metropolitan Museum of Art traveled to Dragon Gate Grotto (龙门石窟) in Luoyang (洛阳), Henan, in the 30s of the last century, he paid for the local bandits to chisel off stone carving Emperor Solute Buddha, that was created 1,500 years ago during the North Wei period (386-534), and broke the precious and sacred artwork into pieces in order to allow him to smuggle it out of China. Later this same American art gallery director had a hand of the giant Buddha statue Lushena (卢舍那大佛) chopped off and shipped to the United States.
While Americans and other Western nations were quick to condemn what the Taliban did to the giant Buddha figure in Afghanistan, they choose to ignore what they used to do to the Buddha icons in China: numerous statues were beheaded by the “art lovers” of the West. In one instance, a Buddha sculpture at Mt Celestial Dragon Grotto (天龙山石窟) in Shanxi Province had its head landed in New York while its body to be brought to Japan’s Idemitsu Museum of Arts.
During WWII, Japanese troops even prohibit Chinese from approaching their own Yungang Grotto (云冈石窟) heritage with a notice board installed at the entrance that read: “Anyone entered the premises without permission will be shot on site (擅入者，格杀勿论)”. Though eventually, Japan lost the war, China lost countless historical treasures to its Fascist neighbour.