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Summer Palace relics survey of results on exhibit

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A bronze rabbit head and rat head made for the Zodiac fountain of the Emperor Qianlong's Summer Palace in China are displayed during the exhibition of the private art collection of French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge at the Grand Palais in Paris February 21, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

One and a half centuries ago, the invading troops of the Anglo-French Army set fire to the Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden, a sprawling masterpiece of Qing Dynasty landscaping in western Beijing.

For the upcoming anniversary, the management has launched a global census of the Garden?s relics and artifacts pillaged and lost over the past 150 years. Today's Spotlight shines on the results of the US leg of the undertaking.

"Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden relics in United States" are on display in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Over six hundred photographs and various documents were gathered during the one-month tour in the US.

The exploratory journey covered nine major museums in cities including Washington, DC, New York, and Boston.

Nearly a hundred of the photographs are being publicly displayed in China for the first time. They will become part of an extensive database on Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden and related artifacts.

Organizers are planning trips to Europe and Japan.

Yuanmingyuan was a treasure trove of China?s most distinguished art, architectural, and cultural collections. In 1860, the plundering and flames by Anglo-French Army nearly gutted the Garden. The following decades saw a great number of the surviving artifacts being smuggled out of the country, which was plagued by disorder and anarchy.

Today most of the Yuanmingyuan artifacts are held by museums and private collectors in Britain and France.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the imperial garden?s destruction, efforts are being made in China for a global survey of the relics.

The name Yuanmingyuan means The Garden of Perfection and Brightness. It was first constructed during the reign of Emperor Kangxi, at the height of the Qing Dynasty in the early 17th Century.

It was later expanded to cover 350 hectares.

The garden was filled with Chinese palaces, as well as buildings in Roman, Baroque, and Gothic styles.

It also functioned as an imperial library and museum, housing cultural treasures dating back to five thousand years ago.

In October 1860, during the Second Opium War, English and French invaders took away most of its treasures, and burned all the buildings.

As the Qing regime deteriorated, warlords and bandits raided the garden over the following decades.

In 1900, the invading Eight-Power Allied Forces inflicted yet more damage to the surviving remnants of architecture.

Source: chinaview.cn
Date: 2010-01-21