Cultural Heritage

Peking University accused of not protecting Summer Palace relics

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 4:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 12:21pm

Peking University has been accused of not protecting two carved stones from the Old Summer Palace even though mainland businessmen and other government backed-parties have spent hundreds of millions yuan to buy back stolen palace relics from abroad.

Liu Yang, member of the Beijing History and Folklore Society, wrote on Weibo that the stones had been “thrown next a bike shed” without a written description or protective measures.

The western-style floral stone carvings stand outside the Sackler Museum of Art and Archeology on the campus without cover or railings. The Beijing Youth Daily reported that they were covered in dust and the small holes on top were full of keys, cigarettes, orange peel and other rubbish.

The newspaper interviewed several passersby, none of whom knew the origins of the stones.

“Cultural objects cannot be reborn,” Liu told the daily, adding that the more than 200-year old stones should be displayed in a museum or returned to the Old Summer Palace.

The Old Summer Palace was razed to the ground by British and French forces in 1860. It used to stand next to the university and its treasures are now scattered around the world. The KODE Art Museums of Bergen recently returned seven columns from the palace to China after a mainland philanthropist donated US$1.6 million to the Norwegian gallery.

The two stones were found during construction work in 2012. The smaller stone is about 50cm long and 40cm wide and the larger is roughly double in size.

He said the stones were originally put outside and were too heavy to steal. “Our building has installed cameras. There is 24-hour monitoring,” he told the newspaper. “If someone walks past at night, they will be reported to the police.”