The horse-head bronze statue lost from the Old Summer Palace. (Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily)
The horse-head bronze statue lost from the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan, in 1860 returned to the site of the former royal resort on Tuesday.
The statue was one of 12 depicting Chinese zodiac animals in front of a fountain in the Western Mansion area. But they were looted by the invading Anglo-French forces in 1860. Yuanmingyuan was also destroyed in that havoc.
The horse-head statue is so far the first animal-head statue to have come back to Yuanmingyuan. It was donated by the late Hong Kong-Macau tycoon and philantrophist Stanley Ho to the country last year, and the National Cultural Heritage Administration recently handed it over to the administration of Yuanmingyuan ruins.
The statue will be regularly displayed in the Zhengjue Temple area in Yuanmingyuan. The temple is one of few sites from the period of the imperial resort that generally remain intact to date. More than 10 million yuan ($1.52 million) was spent by the Haidian district government to improve facilities to ensure its safety.
Seven of the 12 statues including the horse have returned to China, and the rest six are now housed in the National Museum of China and Poly Art Museum.