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China-made bronze elephant from France visits homeland
( 2004-01-21 10:20) (Xinhua)

An elephant-shaped ancient Chinese bronze, belonging to a French museum, is on display for three months in Shanghai.

The elephant, which was believed by historians and archaeologists to be a product of the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 11th century BC), was once used as a wine container.

The bronze -- 96 centimeters long, 45 centimeters wide and 65 centimeters tall and weighing over 50 kilograms -- is in good shape, except that the trunk is broken.

Li Chaoyuan, deputy curator of the Shanghai Museum, said the figure, which was probably used by a royal family, is believed to have been unearthed in central China's Hunan Province.

How the bronze elephant went to France is still unknown to historians and archaeologists of both countries, Li said.

"It was probably purchased by a Frenchman from China," Li said.

A French earl named Isaac de Camondo is known to have bought the bronze elephant at an auction in Paris in 1903 and the relic became a state possession with other collections of the earl afterhe died in 1911.

The bronze is owned by the Guimet Museum, a public museum, and has been loaned to the Shanghai Museum, which boasts over 6,000 bronze items in its collection.

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