Na­tional cri­te­ria for ap­prais­ing relics to be cre­ated

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By WANG KAIHAO in Maan­shan, An­hui wangkai­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ex­perts will help cre­ate de­tailed na­tional cri­te­ria for ap­prais­ing pri­vately owned an­tiques, a cul­tural her­itage of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

In ad­di­tion, the gov­ern­ment will as­sist pub­lic mu­se­ums and pro­fes­sional in­sti­tu­tions in of­fer­ing reg­u­lar and non­profit ap­praisal ser­vices for pri­vate col­lec­tions.

The plan was an­nounced by Liu Yuzhu, di­rec­tor of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage, dur­ing a na­tional meet­ing of cul­tural her­itage ad­min­is­tra­tors in Maan­shan, An­hui province.

“Pri­vately owned items com­prise a cru­cial part of our coun­try’s cul­tural relics,” Liu said. “Col­lec­tions of cul­tural relics need to be en­cour­aged, but a dy­namic mar­ket should be de­vel­oped cor­rectly.”

Liu said the ad­min­is­tra­tion will es­tab­lish a “black­list” to elim­i­nate deal­ers who vi­o­late the law or who have poor credit, but he also said that le­gal trade chan­nels for cul­tural relics will be widened to in­clude on­line plat­forms.

China re­cently fin­ished a fiveyear na­tion­wide sur­vey of cul­tural relics housed in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, but Liu cited lack of in­for­ma­tion on pri­vately owned artifacts as a ma­jor ob­sta­cle to en­hanced pro­tec­tion.

Last year, about 6,000 porce­lain an­tiques do­nated by an col­lec­tor to his alma mater, Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity, were said to be fake.

Crit­i­cism went vi­ral again ear­lier this year when a grass­roots cul­tural relics ex­hi­bi­tion opened in Bei­jing. The ex­hibits, many of them bizarre, were thought to be coun­ter­feits, but they con­tin­ued to be dis­played.

“That is due to lack of au­thor­i­ta­tive ap­praisal in­sti­tu­tions that can make such judg­ments,” said Pan Shouy­ong, a mu­seum stud­ies pro­fes­sor at Minzu Univer­sity of China.

Ac­cord­ing to Pan, the ab­sence of a sup­port­ive pol­icy has led to many pro­fes­sion­als show­ing lit­tle in­ter­est in ap­prais­ing pri­vately owned relics.

“There is a stereo­type that pri­vately owned relics were dug from the ground,” he said. “Con­se­quently, schol­ars are re­luc­tant to touch the field. They want to avoid get­ting in­volved with pos­si­ble il­licit ex­ca­va­tions.”

How­ever, Pan said, the def­i­ni­tion of cul­tural relics has broad­ened as the num­ber of pub­lic col­lec­tions has risen.

“Many peo­ple’s per­sonal be­long­ings in­her­ited from their fa­ther’s gen­er­a­tion, or old items bought at flea mar­kets, can also be counted as cul­tural relics,” he said. “The huge pub­lic need and mis­cel­la­neous mar­kets call for more voices from pro­fes­sion­als.”

Pan said some mu­se­ums have al­ready tried of­fer­ing ap­praisal ser­vices to the pub­lic, but most are only avail­able on May 18, In­ter­na­tional Mu­seum Day. He praised at­tempts to of­fer the ser­vices reg­u­larly, which would pro­vide more third-party ap­praisals when dis­putes arise.

Other than aim­ing for a health­ier mar­ket, the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage also ex­pects the up­com­ing work to add to the boom in pri­vate mu­se­ums in China.

“Many pri­vate mu­seum op­er­a­tors are merely fans,” Pan said. “The in­tro­duc­tion of an item into a mu­seum in­ven­tory needs a lot of ex­per­tise and a rigid process. More in­de­pen­dent ap­praisals will solve the prob­lems.”

Still, Lei Xing­shan, an ar­chae­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Pek­ing Univer­sity, said it’s im­por­tant to sep­a­rate the au­then­ti­ca­tion process from the mar­ket­place.

“If nec­es­sary, it’s OK for a pro­fes­sional scholar to tell whether artifacts are gen­uine or not, but they should keep away from money,” he said. “For ex­am­ple, it’s un­ac­cept­able to say how much money an ar­ti­fact is worth. That is a ba­sic prin­ci­ple ev­ery­one study­ing cul­tural relics should stick to.”

In China, TV pro­grams pro­vide a ma­jor chan­nel for ap­prais­ing relics, but both Pan and Lei say such pro­grams have lit­tle cred­i­bil­ity and are mainly just en­ter­tain­ment.

Col­lec­tions of cul­tural relics need to be en­cour­aged, but a dy­namic mar­ket should be de­vel­oped cor­rectly.” Liu Yuzhu, di­rec­tor of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage

SHA XIAOFENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A Chi­nese Coast Guard ves­sel per­forms a fire sup­pres­sion drill with a fish­ing boat in Sanya, Hainan province, on Thurs­day. The drill, which sim­u­lated a col­li­sion be­tween a fish­ing boat and a pas­sen­ger ves­sel, was or­ga­nized by the city’s mar­itime search and res­cue cen­ter and the of­fice of emer­gency man­age­ment.

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