Panchen Lama says art for sale online is fake

Senior Tibetan Buddhist leader found dozens of shops on Taobao selling counterfeit calligraphy and paintings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 1:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 6:09pm

A top religious leader in Tibet has accused dozens of shops on Alibaba’s Taobao e-commerce platform of selling counterfeit art bearing his name, the regional government’s official news website reports.

The Panchen Lama, the second-highest figure in Tibet’s spiritual hierarchy, said on his WeChat social media account on Monday evening that all calligraphy and paintings bearing his name that were for sale on Taobao.com were fake, Tibet.cn reported.

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Taobao, similar to eBay and Amazon, is China’s largest online shopping platform. It is part of the Alibaba Group, which also owns the South China Morning Post.

A Taobao spokesperson said the listings were posted by third-party sellers and had been removed. “We will continue to monitor product listings that violate our listing rules,” the spokesperson told the Post.

The Panchen Lama said he had searched Taobao, using his name as a keyword.

The items found were “all fake, sold in dozens of shops”, he wrote, adding “do not buy”.

The counterfeit goods and related shops could not be found on Taobao on Tuesday morning.

Tibetan Buddhism has become increasingly popular in China in recent years, especially among upper-middle class people.

The Panchen Lama had spent at least an hour every day practising calligraphy since childhood, using both the Tibetan alphabet and Chinese characters, Tibet.cn reported.

The current Panchen Lama, 27-year-old Gyancain Norbu, was selected from a group of children in 1995 in a process supervised by the Chinese government. The names of the boys were written on slips of paper and put in a golden urn before one was drawn.

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The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, opposed Beijing’s selection and proposed a different candidate as the 11th Panchen Lama. That boy, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was taken into custody by the Chinese government and has not been seen in public since May 1995, according to the Tibetan government in exile.