'2,000-year-old treasures' were made in... 2010

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2012, 12:00am

A jade stool and dressing table thought to be ancient artifacts when they were sold for 220 million yuan (HK$270.7 million) at a Beijing auction last year, were made in Jiangsu in 2010, says China News Service.

The 35 kg stool and the 138 kg table, said then to be about 2,000 years old, were the most expensive jade items sold last year by Beijing Zhongjia International Auctions.

But art experts and historians have questioned their authenticity because people are thought to have sat on the floor, not on stools or chairs, during the Han dynasty (206BC to AD220).

Wang Rumian, chairman of the gemstone and jade association in Pizhou, Jiangsu, said the jade stool was made in the city as a high-quality counterfeit in 2010.

'I don't know why [the counterfeit] was auctioned as a priceless antique,' he said.

'As far as I know, several young men from Xiangyang village spent a year to make the stool. They invited me to provide technical advice several times.'

The owner of a jade workshop in Pizhou said it cost him more than 1 million yuan and took him a year to make the jade furniture.

'The jade furniture copies pieces from the Ming dynasty [1368 to 1644], and the dressing table alone took 22 workers seven months to produce and assemble,' he said. 'It was sold to a buyer from Shijiazhuang in Hebei province for 2.6 million yuan as an artwork. Just the raw materials cost more than 1 million yuan.

Archaeologist Liu Qingzhu, a former director of the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted in an earlier report by the Legal Evening News as saying that people sat on the floor during the Han dynasty, not on stools.

Li Weihan, an expert from China National Arts and Crafts Society, said that jade pieces made in the Han dynasty were wine goblets or containers used to offer sacrifices, and jade would not have been used to make items for daily use.

'It's impossible that there were jade dressing tables and stools in the Han dynasty,' he said.

Many internet users speculated yesterday that the sale was an elaborate form of money-laundering, as a buyer would not make such a purchase unless the items were authenticated by experts who could identify fakes easily.