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Priceless bronze pig head returns home
( 2003-10-16 21:02) (Xinhua)

A priceless bronze pig head dating from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) returned to its home in Beijing Thursday for the first time since being removed by invading foreign troops 143 years ago.

The head is one of 12 bronze animal-head-human-body sculptures formerly guarding a building in Yuanmingyuan Park, the old Imperial Summer Palace, in the northwest of Beijing, which was built from 1709 onwards and burned down by the British and French troops in 1860.

Macao entrepreneur Stanley Ho donated 6 million yuan (about 722, 892 US dollars) to buy back the sculpture from a US art collectorhead early this year and then the sculpture was donated to the Poly Art Museum.

The returned treasure and the other 11 bronze sculptures feature the 12 animals symbolizing the years in which people are born.

In 2000, the cow head, tiger head and monkey head sculptures returned home and are stored in the Poly Art Museum.

The four animal-headed sculptures kept by the Poly Art Museum will go on a display at Yuangmingyuan Park on Oct. 18 to mark the anniversary of the destruction of the palace.

A source with China's Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Program said sculptures of mouse head and rabbit head are kept in Paris and the horse head in Taiwan. However, dragon head, snake head, rooster head, dog head and sheep head were untraceable.

Statistics show 1.67 million cultural relics are housed in over 2,000 museums in 47 countries, accounting for just 10 percent of all lost Chinese cultural treasures. Most of the lost treasures are owned by private collectors.

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