Terracotta Warrior Thumb Theft Should Be 'Severely Punished': China

China outraged over Terracota warrior thumb theft

Representational image

China is reportedly demanding a 24-year-old American man face "severe punishment" for allegedly snapping off the left thumb of a $4.5 million ancient terra-cotta warrior statue on display at a Philadelphia museum.

The statue, which is a cavalryman, dates back to at least 209 B.C. It is one of 10 Chinese terracotta warrior statues now on display at the Franklin Institute in Pennsylvania.

Rohana, according to the affidavit, put his hand on the left hand of the statue, appeared to break something off from the Calvaryman's left hand and put it in his pocket, and then left.

The broken-off thumb wasn't reported missing until January 8, at which point the FBI's Art Crime Team was contacted.

Federal officials later found the thumb in Rohana's desk drawer in his home.

In the wake of the incident, Wu Haiyun - the director of the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre - has strongly condemned the institute over the incident and demanded retribution.

With years of experience hosting world-class traveling exhibitions, The Franklin Institute has multiple levels of security in place to ensure the safety of our artifacts, everything from personnel to technology that meets and exceeds museum industry standards. "This sort of nasty incident has never happened", Mr Wu told state media.

"We ask that the USA severely punish the perpetrator". "We have lodged a serious protest with them".

Wu added that his organization also intends to file a claim for compensation. The life-size statues were constructed to guard the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.

The statues displayed in the "Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor" exhibit were first unearthed by farmers in 1974 and are part of a collection of thousands that were buried along with the emperor in 210 B.C. The Franklin Institute's exhibit will remain open through March 4.

Stefanie Santo, a spokeswoman for the institute, said Monday that the organization has the "utmost respect" for the statues as well as "the rich Chinese cultural heritage they embody".

"There is no protection?"

"The terracotta warriors are national treasures of our country", an unnamed official told the paper.

The center has offered to send its own experts to the institute to help fix the statue, but will file a "claim for compensation", according to news reports. "We have to be at the scene to assess the extent of the damage and then fix the artefact", he said.

"Now we only have video and image materials".

Latest News