LiteratEye Extra: China”™s Prank Thwarts “˜Theft of Culture”™

Editor’s Note: W.J. Elvin III’s LiteratEye column about literary hoaxes is featured here, and only here, every Friday. This is a LiteratEye Extra:

News Analysis: China”™s Prank Thwarts “˜Theft of Culture”™
by W.J. Elvin III, March 3, 2009

artchinanewsafpgi-200Do pranks have a role in repairing theft of culture? Apparently the Chinese think so. Quite often, theft of culture refers to items captured by a conquering army, so-called “spoils of war,” sometimes excused as “war souvenirs.” There are many other ways items of cultural significance are liberated from their proper homes including outright theft, sale by someone who has no right to sell, and treasure hunting (sometimes in the respectable guise of archaeology), to name a few.

Examples could be drawn from the world over (see More nations demanding return of relics, from Business Inquirer) but this particular case is from China, formerly a huge shopping mart for collectors and now trying to reclaim some historic cultural items it considers plundered. When two extraordinarily valuable Chinese bronzes went up for auction the other day, the high bidder at nearly $40-million, a Chinese government official, then refused to pay. Continue reading “LiteratEye Extra: China”™s Prank Thwarts “˜Theft of Culture”™”