Museum admits Terracotta Army may be fake
A platoon of Terracotta Army figures remained on display at a German museum but with a sign nearby warning that they might be fakes.11 December 2007
Hamburg (dpa) - A platoon of Terracotta Army figures remained on display Tuesday at a German museum, but with a sign nearby warning that they might be fakes.
The Chinese custodians of the original, 2,200-year-old life-sized figures from the city of Xi'an had said the previous day that they had no knowledge of any loan of clay soldiers to Germany.
The embarrassed Museum of Ethnology in the port city of Hamburg has offered to refund entrance charges to any of the 10,000 visitors so far who feel tricked, a city newspaper, the Abendblatt, reported.
The sign said there were claims by "third parties" that all the figures obtained from an exhibitions company were copies. The museum management was urgently investigating the provenance of the figures.
Wulf Koepke, the museum chief executive, said the firm, Center of Chinese Arts and Culture (CCAC) of Leipzig, Germany, had provided the museum with certificates of authenticity for eight soldiers and two horses.
The many other figures on display at the museum are described as replicas, like those shown in a tent several years ago in Hamburg during a Germany-wide tour.
Koepke said CCAC was expected to bring Chinese historic monuments officials to Hamburg to certify the pieces.
"If no Chinese come, that will settle the issue," he said.
A critic of CCAC has filed a fraud complaint against the firm with police, who are investigating.
The terracotta warriors who guard the grave of the Emperor Qin (259-210 BC) were discovered in 1974 near Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
An official at the provincial cultural affairs office in Xi'an said the only Army exhibition in Europe at present was one at the British Museum in London.
Koepke complained that Beijing had not pointed this out earlier, when the Germans worried they would lose the show as a punishment for Chancellor Angela Merkel inviting Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to her office this year.
Beijing, which insists Tibet is an integral part of China, cancelled several meetings in protest.
Koepke said China's consul-general in Hamburg, Ma Jinsheng, had agreed at the time to investigate.
"The consul-general asked around in Beijing, but could not find out anything at all," the museum official said.
Subject: German news