Ancient bronze vase returned to China after a century

An ancient bronze ware item that had been floating around overseas for nearly a century was finally returned to China yesterday from the New York-based fine arts auction house Christie's after an agreement was made with Chinese collectors.

Ancient bronze vase returned to China after a century
Two workers examine Min Fanglei, the 3,000-year-old bronze ritual vessel, on its return to Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, yesterday. The 64-centimeter-tall wine container, which dates from the 12th or 11th century BC, is generally regarded as the largest and most exquisite of its kind. It was excavated by farmers in Hunan in 1919 but later taken abroad. Its new home is the Hunan Provincial Museum and there are no plans for it to leave any time soon, according to the group of local collectors who bought it from its foreign owner. The lid (inset) to the vessel has been in the Hunan museum since 1956 [Credit: Xinhua]
The bronze item is a body of a wine vessel known as Minfanglei and is considered to represent one of the greatest pieces in the golden era of Chinese bronze in the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC -1046 BC), according to CRI. Before now, China only had the lid on display. Both pieces will now be preserved at the Hunan Provincial Museum.

The vessel, the largest of its kind ever discovered in China, was unearthed in Hunan province back in 1919 and in 1924 was sold to an individual in Shanghai. The buyer auctioned the item off to foreign collectors, after which, it traveled to various auctions in countries including the US, the UK, France and Japan.

The wine vessel ended up at Christie's in 2001 and reportedly fetched 9.246 million USD—a record high for Asian art work in the international circuit at the time.

Source: Shanghaiist [June 22, 2014]

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