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China to Auction Returned Tibetan Relics

Returned Tibetan Relics to Be Auctioned

Thirty-two Tibetan cultural relics returned to the mainland will be auctioned by Chengming International Auction Company on September 17 in Beijing. The relics are now on display at the Asia Hotel until September 15.

Huang Jing, president of Chengming International Auction Company, said these relics, held previously by a Taiwan collector, are all from Tibet and most of them are connected with Tibetan Buddhism.

Sometime in the 1980s, a collector from Taiwan noticed a bejeweled pagoda-shaped three-level golden prayer wheel in an antique shop in Europe.

The collector knew at once that this was a precious Tibetan antique. The store manager told him this was just one of a batch of Tibetan cultural relics, which were presented to Tibetan religious leaders over a period of time during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This batch of antiques also included a four-armed jade Kwan-yin sculpture, and a golden triton. The collector bought the entire batch.

In 2003, the relics were exhibited at the Taiwan History Museum where they caused a sensation. At the beginning of this year, Chengming made contact with the collector and persuaded him to put the antiques up for auction in Beijing.

Experts say these relics are of high historical and artistic value. One of the relics, a jade piece dubbed "Seven Treasures", is said to be worth an estimated 800,000 yuan (about US$98,800) to 1.2 million yuan (about US$148,300).

According to the history books, the sixth Panchen Lama went to the Chengde Mountain Resort in Hebei Province to present gifts to Qing Emperor Qianlong on the occasion of the emperor's 70th birthday in 1781. In return, the emperor gave Panchen Lama the "Seven Treasures".

Huang said that the relics are worth a total of about 50 million yuan (about US$6.2 million). According to the auction law and cultural relics protection law of the People's Republic of China, the relics, because they were retrieved from Taiwan, may be bought by foreign merchants and taken out of the country again.

The relics were featured in a September 7 broadcast of Archives on National Treasures, a China Central Television magazine program.

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