A mainland court recently ruled that two brothers could not retrieve the treasures buried in their great-grandfather’s tomb since the relics belonged to the nation. This move has raised controversy in regards to who actually owns family artifacts: the descendants or the state?
According to the SCMP:
The Zheng brothers from Baofeng county in Henan province wanted 32 pieces of grave artefacts, which were stolen by thieves then recovered by local police, to be returned to their family.
The treasures – dating back to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), including jade bracelets and rings – had been kept by the Baofeng cultural relics bureau since April 2011.
These had been buried in their great-grandfather’s grave in the same county more than 80 years ago.
The local cultural relics bureau insisted that all remains under Chinese territory belonged to the state. The brothers argued that the tomb, including the trove buried in it, should be rightfully the descendants’.
However, the Intermediate People’s Court of Pingdingshan, a city that administers Baofeng, rejected the brothers’ claim yesterday and ruled that the goods belonged to the country […].
The court’s verdict is based on the Antiquities Act which states that all unearthed relics belong to the Chinese nation.
However, the majority of people don’t seem to hold the same view. 88 percent of pollers said they disagreed with the court’s verdict in a recent online survey organized by Sina. One Weibo microblogger even said: “What’s the difference between a state and thieves if these treasures handed down from ancestors cannot be kept by the family?”
By Aliaume Leroy
[Image via Sadigh Gallery]