Qing Dynasty clock collection sings again

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Restored Qing Dynasty musical clocks designed to delight emperors in the Forbidden City and never seen outside China will go on display from Saturday at Utrecht's Speelklok museum.

The clocks stored in the Forbidden City's Palace Museum were silent for decades until a team from the Utrecht museum began working with Chinese experts to restore them three years ago.

"This exhibition is the result of that collaboration between our museum and the Forbidden City museum," said Speelklok communications chief Brechje Manschot.

The 18th century clocks made in Europe were imported to China by emperors fascinated by their mechanical craftsmanship.

The biggest, a five-stage "pagoda clock" covered in gold leaf, rises to its full height of two metres (six feet six inches) when it rings in the hour and then slowly subsides over the next 60 minutes.

The exhibition, SingSong, Treasures from the Forbidden City, runs until February 28.

© 2010 AFP

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