Layman-turned-relics hunter rescues China's antiquities





Searching through the rubble of demolition sites across the 800-year-old capital of China, Li Songtang has unearthed a treasure trove of ancient relics. They include gate piers depicting Mongolians and the Han Chinese during the Yuan dynasty, a Buddhist carving that is more than 1,000 years old, and a Ming dynasty marble fish water tank.

Li Songtang is neither museum curator nor antiques expert, but an ordinary man who did not want to see China's rich history lost to modernization during the late 1970s.

"I used to sit on the stone gate piers in front of our family home and recite poems. They were like my little friends," said the 60-year-old Beijing native who, like many Chinese, used to live in homes decorated with stone carvings, some of them ancient. When he saw some old sculptures being smashed, "I felt like they have been killed. I was very sad."



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