According to the Chinese zodiac this isn’t the year of the horse; but if you are a Chinese patriot or antique enthusiast you might take a different view. That’s because a rare bronze horse head has been returned to its home in Beijing, from where it was looted by British and French troops who nabbed it from the Summer Palace 160 years ago.
The sculpture was donated to the Chinese government by Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho, making it the seventh in a set of bronze animal heads to be returned. The whereabouts of the other five (a dragon, dog, snake, goat and chicken) remains unknown. Chinese netizens greeted the news with enthusiasm. “Thanks Mr Ho. Hope more bronze heads can come back to their mother’s arms,” wrote one netizen.
Ho paid $8.7 million at auction for the statue in 2007. According to the South China Morning Post the 12 sculptures have become symbols of China’s ‘century of humiliations’ at the hands of colonial powers. Each time a statue returns it triggers rhetoric about the country’s ongoing “national rejuvenation”.
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