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Ancient Chinese bronze relic returns to China
12/4/2006 10:10

A 2,300-year-old bronze ding, or three-legged tripod, returned to China from Europe on Monday to a new home in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The relic was presented to the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau by Bernard Gomez, a noted French archaeologist and an expert on Chinese antiquities.

Bronze dings were common during the Shang (1,600-1,100 BC) and Western Zhou (1,100-771 BC) dynasties and were still used in the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-220 AD) dynasties, symbolizing the power and prosperity of a state or country.

The ding is about 17.5 cm high and 24.5 cm in diameter, said Liu Yunhui, deputy-director of the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau.

The ding's body bears about 50 inscribed characters, making a record of the states or dynasties that kept it in ancient China. The keepers included "Han," a state in the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC); Xianyang Palace of the imperial Qin Dynasty and Linjin Palace of the Han Dynasty.

The marks show the ding was of great importance since it had been handed down formally as an emblem of authority, said Wang Hui, a researcher with the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau and an expert on ancient Chinese characters.

A ding with inscription characters of so many states and dynasties is very rare, Wang acknowledged.

Experts believe it was excavated in Shaanxi 100 years ago at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and smuggled to Europe.

Gomez spotted it when helping authenticate ancient Chinese bronzeware two years ago and immediately recognized it as an invaluable ding.