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News: UK
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A Jizhou stoneware vase with painted butterflies and flowers of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) was among the stolen artefacts. Photo Credit: BBC/MEEA/Avon and Somerset Police.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Chinese precious artefacts stolen from Bath Museum of Asian Art

The police think it was a targeted attack

Chinese artefacts from the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath have been stolen. Now police are trying to find witnesses that will help them trace the burglars.

The incident took place last Tuesday, when masked raiders broke into the museum smashing a first floor window and removed several precious gold, jade, and ceramic artefacts from their display cabinets. The items range in monetary value but are all precious in terms of cultural significance.

Although the police have issued a list with the stolen items, museum staff have compiled a detailed list with the seized items that was published on their website and continue working to update it if necessary.

Among the stolen items are a jade monkey holding a peach from the Yuan or early Ming dynasty, a carving of jade mandarin ducks with lotus flowers from the Quing dynasty, 14 gold plates decorated with flowers from the early ming dynasty, a Jzhou stoneware vase with painted floral and insect designs from the Southern Song dynasty, a soapstone figure of the scholar Dongfang Shuo by the stone carver Yang Yuxuan from the late Ming or early Qing dynasty, and a zitan wood covered box with various inlays from the Qing dynasty.

Witnesses who notified the police saw the masked men break into the museum and take off in a dark-coloured SUV. The police believe it was a targeted attack and the items were stolen to order, due to the speed of the burglary and the specific items that were removed. They are now investigating the incident and have also issued an appeal for witnesses. So far they have seize a white Ford Transit van, stolen from Ballance Street and left at the scene and are inspecting CCTVA footage.

Vernon Rapley, chair of the National Museum Security Group and director of Cultural Heritage Protection & Security at the Victoria & Albert Museum said in a statement that the incident was concerning and that all museums across the UK will do what they can to assist in recovering the property and bringing the offenders to justice.

This burglary came about six years after another attempt to steal artefacts had taken place in the same museum while it was open. But then nothing was removed. The museum will remain closed for a while but hopefully it will reopen by 5 May when its new exhibition “A Quest for Wellness: Contemporary Art by Zhang Yanzi” is due to start.

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