By Tom Bannister
China has carefully crafted a reputation for selling outrageous fakes. Now, a man in Zhengzhou gives us an example of one of the boldest attempts yet. He was caught trying to sell an exquisitely crafted suit of 2,000-year-old full body-armour. Experts said that the armour was indeed well-made, but from resin and plastic, not gold and jade, and was likely to have been produced in 2012 AD rather than 212 BC.
The incident began when Friday afternoon a Mr Yuan called up a Zhengzhou newspaper to say “on the junction of Dongfeng road and Jingsan road there is a man who is trying to sell a suit of gold and jade armour for 50,000 yuan. I don’t know if its genuine or not“.
The newspaper sent a reporter to investigate who found the man, who was in his 30’s, with a suit of glistening armour laid out on the pavement in front of him. The armour appeared to be made from jade and gold and measured 1.8m from toes to head.
The seller told the reporter that he was from Xiaogan in Hubei province but that he sold real-estate in Zhengzhou. He had made some losses and was now forced to sell his ancestors’ armour. He said that the lowest he would go would be 50,000 yuan and that this was far lower than the actual worth of the suit. “In a normal auction” the man said “this could fetch fifty million yuan, but I’ll give it to you for just fifty thousand“.
The armour was in excellent condition with beautiful phoenix designs on the metal. The reporter asked about its history and the man told him that it was from the Qin dynasty (221-207BC) and that it had “been passed down through the generations until it reached me“.The reporter called up some experts, and very quickly two local archaeologists turned up at the scene.
When he saw the experts the seller became noticeably unsettled. After inspecting the item the experts said “this is absolutely not an historical relic. For a start it’s not even made of real jade, it’s made from resin and plastic. At best you can say that it’s good handiwork“.They reprimanded the man who scurried away with his plastic armour.
This is what a genuine suit of armour looks like: