Chinese netizens call for the return of five missing bronze zodiac heads looted from Yuanmingyuan

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/18 18:42:06

A picture of the horse head. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The return of the bronze Horse zodiac head to Yuanmingyuan (China's Old Summer Plalace) last week, stirred hopes in many Chinese that the remaining five missing zodiac heads -Dog, Rooster, Dragon, Sheep and Snake- of the 12-piece zodiac statue set could one day find their way home. 

The Horse zodiac statue was part of a complicated water clock that stood outside the Haitang Hall of the West Building of the Yuanmingyuan Garden during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The relic was stolen with other 11 bronze zodiac statues of the Zodiac Fountain in the Old Summer Palace by invading forces when Anglo-French Alliance Forces razed the palace to the ground in 1860.

So far, seven of the heads have made their way back to China. However, the whereabouts of the rest of the five animal heads representing the zodiac signs of Dog, Rooster, Dragon, Sheep and Snake remain unknown, Guan Qiang, deputy head of China's relics authority, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

According to a report from Beijing Daily, the Dragon zodiac head may be in the hands of a private collector on the island of Taiwan, China. In 2018, a bronze dragon was photographed at an auction house in Paris, France. Some researchers suspected that this was the missing head looted from Yuanmingyuan. This incident caused a short controversy.

The hashtag for the returned bronze Horse zodiac head donated by Chinese tycoon Stanley Ho has earned 520 million views on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. Among the many comments, netizens were calling for the reunion of the 12 zodiac statues in Yuanmingyuan. 

"I once saw a bronze Dog zodiac head displayed outside the Grand Lisboa Macao, but I am not sure if it is one of the 12 bronze zodiac heads. But I believe the remaining five heads will soon return to the motherland, and I am looking forward to the exhibit of the reunion of the 12 zodiac heads," said Zhang Zexin, a 68-year-old man from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province.


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