Old Summer Palace painstakingly restores ransacked treasures
Global Times

Broken porcelain awaits expert restoration. True restoration not only preserves the historic significance of a relic, but also reflects its aesthetic value, according to Restoration 1860 experts. Photo: Courtesy of Yuanmingyuan Park (Photo: Global Times)

Restorers are busy assembling what amounts to one of the world's fiddliest jigsaw puzzles from more than 100,000 pieces of porcelain, glass and stone carvings scattered about the Old Summer Palace by marauding Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860. 

The Restoration 1860 project is designed to revive the richness of ancient Chinese porcelain by returning national treasures to life, said Chen Hui, head of the archeology department at the Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace.

"It is a time-consuming job to restore relics with lots of complicated processes including sorting, cleaning, bonding, matching, color creation, painting, glazing, photo filing and evaluation," Chen told the Global Times.

Some of the porcelain was smashed into hundreds of pieces and scattered about in the park, Chen noted. 

"If some pieces can't be found, that means that some porcelain may not finally be restored. So it's hard to say at the moment how many cultural relics will be restored by the end."

Six damaged porcelain items have been selected to pioneer the repair process including two bowls that date back to the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722), read a press release the park's administration office sent to Global Times on Sunday.

The six relics will one day be exhibited at the park and undergo three-dimensional laser scanning to be included in an online digital museum. 

Restoration 1860 is designed to accelerate the pace of restoring cultural relics, rekindling the park's past splendor and better protecting those relics, Chen said. 

The park began to work on cultural relics in the 1990s. The Restoration 1860 project is not open to individual visitors but can receive group bookings in advance.