ARTS / ART
Lost Buddha head statue returns home to Shanxi Province
Published: Jul 26, 2021 06:43 PM
Tianlong Mountain buddha head statue in North China's Shanxi Province Photo: Courtesy for National Cultural Heritage Administration

Tianlong Mountain buddha head statue in North China's Shanxi Province Photo: Courtesy for National Cultural Heritage Administration

After drifting around for nearly a century abroad, a large stone Buddha head finally returned home to Taiyuan in North China's Shanxi Province on Saturday. 

The Buddha head statue is the 100th such cultural relic to return to China from abroad. In this instance, the statue was retrieved from Japan. After its return, it was placed on display in Beijing for a short time in December 2020.

The Buddha head statue was an iconic piece that once sat in the eighth cave of Taiyuan's Tianlong Mountain Grottoes for more than 1,000 years. 

Tianlong Mountain is known for its exquisite stone carvings and distinctive geography. Across 20 caves, the grottoes contain 500 statues that reveal the rich history of the Northern Dynasties (420-589) to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). 

"Not only do the grottoes have historical value due to their age, the fine and distinctive carving techniques used to create the statues and the buildings also provide artistic and architectural references for researchers interested in ancient Chinese civilization," Ma Yong, a fine arts archaeologist, told the Global Times on Monday. 

To celebrate the treasure's return, a special exhibition is being held at the Tianlong Mountain Grottoes Museum.

The exhibition displays the relic, historical pictures and exhibits explaining technology-powered digital recovery solutions and 3D printing and how they are used in contemporary historical archiving. 

Besides the exhibition, a research seminar was also held on Saturday during which experts and scholars founded the Tianlong Mountain Initiative to promote further investigations into relics that are still lost. 

"China should speed up thorough investigation into the Grotto relics that are still abroad as well as investigating the ownership of such items. We are firmly against any form of antiquity internationalism in the name of a 'Global Museum.'" Huo ZhengXin, a law professor who participated in the initiative, told media. 

More than 170 statues were stolen from Tianlongshan, with a majority currently collected in Japan, Europe and the US.

The Buddha head statue is now part of the permanent collection at the Tianlong Mountain Grottoes Museum.


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