Purple sand pots from the Qing Dynasty, warriors statues, black glazed ancient pottery – 796 sets of Chinese cultural relics reaching a 5,000-year time span are returning home from Italy, according to a report by Xinhua.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte witnessed the exchange of certificates on the return of the cultural relics and artworks on Saturday in Rome.
This is the largest scale of cultural relic returns in the past 20 years. It marks a new milestone in China-Italy cultural heritage cooperation and sets a new example for international cooperation in recovering lost cultural relics.
In 2007, Italian gendarmerie seized a batch of Chinese cultural relics and artworks which are suspected of being illegally lost in the national cultural relics market, and immediately started the domestic judicial procedures. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China then contacted the Italian authorities to carry out the recovery and return of lost cultural relics.
Director of the Social Heritage Department of the Museum Department of the State Administration of Cultural Relics Wu Min said that the Chinese side would work with the Italian military police on the repatriation of cultural relics.
The time span of these 796 sets of cultural relics was about 5,000 years long, ranging from the Neolithic age (10,000 B.C.) to Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), Wu explained, adding that these wide varieties of artifacts were well-preserved and had great value. "They are the physical witnesses of the production and living scenes, and the development of civilization in various periods of Chinese history," Wu said.
In addition to the groundbreaking return of cultural relics, during President Xi Jinping's visit to Italy, the two countries signed a number of cooperation documents on cultural heritage, including a memorandum of understanding on preventing illegal entry and exit of cultural relics.