China’s Old Summer Palace goes on the hunt for lion’s missing ball
Eagle-eyed visitor notices change to one of a pair of ancient stone relics that was repatriated in 2010
The hunt is on at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing after one of its stone lions was reported to be missing a ball, Chinese media reported.
The incident came to light after a visitor spotted that one of the guardian lion sculptures had changed since he’d last been to see it, China News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The keen cultural historian, identified only by his surname Li, was quoted as saying that he first saw the lions last year and that they had made a big impression on him. When he visited them again recently he immediately noticed that one of them was missing a ball from its mouth.
The sculpture is one of a pair of stone lions that was returned to China from overseas in 2010 as part of a larger collection of artifacts and relics that were likely smuggled out of the country decades ago.
Li said that the two lions were in very good condition when he saw them last year and was disappointed that one of them had since been damaged.
According to the news report, the sculptures are positioned in one of the many courtyards at the palace and are on permanent display to the public.
It did not say what steps have been taken to discover what happened to the beast with the missing ball, but rather quoted a local lawyer as saying that anyone found guilty of stealing a cultural relic could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
In April last year, two stone candlestick holders were reported to have been stolen by visitors to the Ming Tombs in Beijing. They have yet to be recovered.