Team in talks over statue vandalism

Updated 2018-02-23 11:21:03 China Daily

A Chinese team has been set up to negotiate with a Pennsylvania museum where the thumb of an ancient Terracotta Warrior statue was broken off and stolen while on exhibit in the US, said an official with the cultural relics authority in Shaanxi province. (Photo/Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage)

Experts to be sent to repair snapped finger; compensation claim in plan

A Chinese team has been set up to negotiate with a Pennsylvania museum where the thumb of an ancient Terracotta Warrior statue was broken off and stolen while on exhibit in the U.S., said an official with the cultural relics authority in Shaanxi province.

Zhang Xiaoying, deputy director of the museum and cultural relics department of the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage, said the bureau will publicize the results of the negotiations as soon as possible.

The Terracotta Army is one of the most important archaeological finds in China. The damaged statue of a cavalryman is among the 10 on loan to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The exhibit will run through March 4.

The cultural relics bureau said on Sunday that experts would be sent to repair the damage. The bureau also urged the U.S. departments involved to guarantee the safety of the relics.

It is unclear if China will cut short the exhibits over property safety concerns or who will pay for the repair work, but Wu Haiyun, an official with the bureau, told China Central Television that there would be a claim for compensation.

Wang Dongfeng, a cultural relics repair expert at the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum in Shaanxi, said the repair process is complicated and it would usually take three to five months to restore a Terracotta Warrior.

According to the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, the incident was the only one of its kind in 40 years of loaning out the relics.

According to the FBI, the statue's thumb was snapped off and stolen on Dec 21 by a U.S. citizen who was attending a party at the museum, but the damage was not noticed until Jan 8.

The FBI later traced it to the 24-year-old, who took a selfie with the artwork before breaking off the thumb on its left hand, pocketing it and leaving the scene.

Michael Rohana has been charged with theft and concealment of a major artwork, and was later released on bail, according to Xinhua News Agency.

A statement on the website of the cultural relics bureau on Sunday suggested the museum initially failed to inform its Chinese partner. It said the bureau learned of the incident through an online news report and then confirmed the information with the museum.

The Terracotta Army - 8,000 life-size clay warriors - was discovered by a group of farmers on the outskirts of the provincial capital Xi'an in 1974.

It was built by China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.) to protect him in his afterlife.

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