This horse-head statue was recently returned to Beijing by Stanley Ho. CFP
Twelve animal head statues of the Chinese zodiac are well-known treasures from Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace. After Anglo-French troops broke into the Old Summer Palace in 1860, numerous national treasures, including the 12 animal head statues, were taken away.
On Nov 13, a red bronze horse-head statue returned to Beijing. It was donated by Macao-based collector Stanley Ho and handed over to the National Cultural Heritage Administration in Beijing.
“The broken link of historical memory is thus re-connected,” Liu Yuzhu, director of the NCHA, told China Daily.
“The return of these relics holds the public’s collective emotion. People’s cultural confidence can be strengthened. It will also encourage more compatriots’ devotion, both at home and abroad, to better preserve the cultural heritage of our country.”
In the past 70 years, the Chinese government and many compatriots have spared no effort to reclaim lost Chinese relics and artifacts from overseas. Due to their efforts, the horse statue is the seventh of the 12 animal statues to be returned from overseas. Now, the search is on for the remaining five: a dog, a rooster, a dragon, a sheep and a snake.