Planet China

Hebei’s new enigma

The Sphinx is being destroyed. However, Egyptologists need not worry. The original in Giza remains intact and the Sphinx in question is a copy in the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang in Hebei province. The fake version has been a source of controversy since it first appeared in 2014 at a film studio. The iron and concrete copy sparked an apoplectic reaction from the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry, which threatened to embarrass China by making a complaint to UNESCO (the original statue is deservedly on its World Heritage List). According to Apple Daily the 20-metre long and 60-metre high (exact) replica was dismantled, which should have been the end of the story as far as the Egyptians were concerned.

However, in 2016 the film studio’s theme park (which also features a likeness of IM Pei’s glass Louvre Pyramid) decided to rebuild its ‘homage’ to the Sphinx, this time in sturdier stone. Cue a fresh round of complaints to UNESCO.

Now after being demolished a second time, a poster has appeared at the site showing what will rise in the Sphinx’s place. This time no intellectual property looks set to be infringed, as what is being proposed is bizarrely original: a giant deer spouting water from its mouth. The only thing it has in common with the Sphinx is mystery: in this case what it represents and why it was conceived – after all, have you ever seen a fountain of water spewing out of a deer’s mouth?

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