After an absence of nearly two decades, the 1,300-year-old Dengyu Stone Tower eventually came back home in North China's Shanxi province.
The Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Taiwan has recently donated the ancient pagoda to Shanxi. The body of the stone tower was stolen from Dengyu village in Shanxi in 1998. When a private collector donated it to the Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Taiwan, the monastery decided to return it to Shanxi.
A ceremony was held on April 16 in the Shanxi Museum to celebrate the return of the relic. [Photo/CGTN]
A month-long exhibition of this ancient pagoda has begun and will run until mid-May. Many visitors have come to appreciate the beauty of the pagoda.
Qiao Qiao is a Chinese teacher of a local middle school and has always been a fan of cultural relics. He says he came specially to see this stone tower and felt it's so exquisite and looks amazing. He also hopes that his students can come and learn about its history.
Zhang Huiguo, deputy curator of the Shanxi Museum, says the pagoda is a precious example of a Buddhist stone tower in the prosperous Tang Dynasty. "It's really rare to see such an exquisite Buddhist sculpture with such beautiful colors and four faces of Buddhist images. Experts are now doing more research on it."
The former abbot of Chung Tai Chan Monastery, Wei Jue decided to return the pagoda to Shanxi once he understood it had been stolen. When he passed away, his disciple honored his abbot's final wish. Many visitors say they feel moved by his kindness and generosity.
Last year, the Taiwan Chung Tai Chan Monastery built the Chung Tai World Museum. The project was initiated by Wei Jue. Zhang Huiguo says Shanxi Museum has many cultural exchanges and cooperation with the Chung Tai World Museum. Both sides have a common goal to protect Chinese cultural relics.
The Dengyu Stone Tower was made in Tang Dynasty. [Photo/CGTN]
The Dengyu stone tower composed of a base, a body, a tower eave and spire. The pagoda was given provincial-level protection in 1965. While the tower's base and eave are still in Dengyu village, its spire was stolen in 1996 and still missing today.
Now many are concerned that the body of the pagoda might be stolen again if it goes back to its original site in the village. Zhang Huiguo says the Dengyu Stone Tower can't stay in the museum all the time because it's listed as an immovable cultural relic. But the Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau says considering the poor state of the village, the pagoda won't be sent back until the conditions there improve.
Shanxi is home to a large amount of cultural relics. But it's unfortunate that the Dengyu Stone Tower is just among many relics that were stolen. Now the province is speeding up to improve the protection over the cultural relics by various means. Hopefully, these efforts will not be in vain.