Deal to Curb Looting in China Worries MuseumsBreaking News
The agreement, signed on Jan. 14, covers all of China’s cultural heritage from the Paleolithic period, beginning 75,000 B.C., through the Tang period, ending A.D. 907, in addition to monumental sculpture and wall art that is at least 250 years old. Materials subject to import restrictions include art, furniture, textiles, ceramics, weapons, tools, ornaments, jewelry, coins and musical instruments.
The accord was widely praised in the archaeological community in the United States and elsewhere as an important measure to deter looting of ancient sites and the illicit trade in stolen artifacts. But among Chinese art dealers and museum professionals in the United States there is a widespread belief not only that the agreement is unlikely to achieve its stated goal of stopping looting in China, but also that it will harm legitimate collecting and study of this material.
James J. Lally, a New York dealer in Asian art, also suggested that the agreement would be detrimental to collecting by American museums, and said that because the content of the new regulations and their practical application were not well explained or understood, dealers at home and abroad had become fearful of the “unpredictable power” of individual United States Customs agents to seize objects.
Fine Chinese art held by Japanese or European dealers will not be shown to U.S. museums because the dealers will not wish to risk the chance of problems at Customs,” Mr. Lally said. “A positive cultural activity will be turned into a source of problems.”
But not all collecting of Chinese artifacts by American museums will be affected by the accord, which mostly excludes the last 1,000 years of Chinese history. Acquisitions for the Chinese art collection of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., for instance, are primarily post-Tang Dynasty, meaning after A.D. 907, so the agreement has little direct impact.
The agreement comes with mutual obligations. In return for the United States’ restricting its imports, China has agreed to take greater measures to crack down on looting and the illicit market for these items within China, believed to be huge, as well as to facilitate greater cooperation with American museums, including more exhibitions, cultural exchanges and long-term loans of archaeological material.
comments powered by Disqus
- Carla Hayden says Frederick Douglass "might have a lot to do with the fact that I am a librarian”
- Baton Rouge area Catholic school responds to student's racist essay about Black History Month
- How the ‘guerrilla archivists’ saved history – and are doing it again under Trump
- Trump visits the National Museum of African American History and Culture
- New Book Says Bob Woodward Burned Hillary Clinton’s Ghostwriter
- Historian and Antiwar Activist Marilyn Young Dies at 79
- Trump Chooses Historian H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser
- Holocaust Historian Deborah Lipstadt Explains Why People Believe Trump's Lies
- Princeton’s Harold James warns World War Three is now a "serious threat”
- Israeli schools' history lessons create good soldiers, says pundit