Hunan Working Group Set off to Bring the ‘Min’ Fanglei Home
With concerted efforts, the ‘Min’ Fanglei, the famous bronzeware which has been away from its home for almost a century, is about to return Hunan-its original home. A working group consisting of the representatives from the Hunan Provincial Museum, Hunan Broadcasting System, the Tan Guobing Contemporary Art Museum and other organizations, sets off on June 5 for the United States for the transfer of the bronze vessel.
Lei was a popular ritual vessel and wine container in late Shang and early Zhou Dynasties in China. In 1919, the most exquisite bronze piece with the largest size ever was unearthed in Taoyuan County, Hunan Province, and got its name ‘Min’ Fanglei from the inscriptions on it. The bronze piece with magnificent size, sophisticated designs and beautiful cravings, stands for the highest craftsmanship in late Shang Dynasty in China, however, its body, then separated with its cover due to several reasons, was brought outside of China and then passed to the hands of several antique dealers while the cover has been collected at the Hunan Provincial Museum since 1956.
This March, the ‘Min’ Fanglei made its unexpected presence at the Christie’s Spring Auctions in New York, attracting a lot of attentions from its home. Hunan provincial government attached great importance to the bronze, and then decided without any hesitation to purchase it back. Then, representatives of several related organizations and private collectors went to New York on March 17, in order to bring back this piece of long-lost treasure. After negotiated with the current owner and the Christie’s for three days and nights, they finally made a successful deal.
The transfer of the bronze this time is expected to finish on June 12 in New York. After the transfer ceremony, the ‘Min’ Fanglei will be back to Hunan in late June, under the safeguard of an international transportation company. And, Changsha citizens are expected to witness the historic moment when the long-lost body is covered by its cap on June 26.
The ‘Min’ Fanglei is definitely worthy to be among our national treasures. It will return to China after a private purchase, creating an atmosphere in the society that everyone is responsible for protecting our cultural heritage, said Chen Yuanping, deputy director of Hunan Provincial Administration of Cultural Affairs and director of the Hunan Provincial Bureau of Cultural Relics. After its return, the bronze will be permanently collected at the Hunan Provincial Museum which has already made the research, display and promotion plans for the bronze vessel.
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