Planet China

Make believe

The late Robert Ripley, founder of the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not!’ franchise, was so drawn to Chinese culture that he once signed his name “Rip Li”. Now a museum in China is challenging his brand of odditorium. The Jibaozhai Museum in Hebei’s Jizhou City opened in 2010 after a Rmb50 million ($8.8 million) investment. The four-storey treasure house claims to contain over 40,000 ancient relics and the collection gets the Jibaozhai triple-A rating from tourism authorities. State enterprises and local schools saw it as a popular spot for educational tours. That was until a blog post last week by popular writer Ma Boyong revealed that much of the museum’s content is bogus.

Ma visited Jibaozhai’s collection following rave reviews from a movie producer, who revealed on his weibo how he had been stunned by the rich heritage on display. But once there, Ma soon realised that the large collection of “national treasures” were clumsy forgeries. One ceramic vase claiming to date back to the Qing Dynasty depicted a modern cartoon. Some of the chinaware showed scenes from novels that weren’t written at the time of the pottery’s alleged production.

Ma’s acerbic verdict: “Between me and this bullshit museum, surely one of us has gone insane.” The museum – which charges entry of Rmb30 per person – hasn’t respnded to Ma’s comments. But the People’s Daily reports that local authorities plan to close it down soon.

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