Returning Lost Honor

I’ve been reading the news of the Qing Dynasty vase that sold for $85.9 million recently. That vase may have belonged to the Qianlong Emperor, who ruled China from 1735 to 1795.

Blogs and the Western media are gushing about the auction price as if that were all that counts.

The New York Times said, “The vase’s price exceeded the record for Chinese antiquities set just last month in Hong Kong, when another Qianlong vase sold for $34.2 million.”

Posh Stuff Online says the (bidding) at Bainbridge’s auction was a battle among Asians.

Instead of focusing on the price, we should understand the reason why Chinese buyers would spend so much for a piece of China’s history with an imperial seal on it.


One theory says that the vase may have been among the treasures looted by British troops when they sacked (and destroyed) the imperial palaces in Beijing during the second Opium War, from 1856 to 1860.

I think the theft of the 85.9 million dollar vase is a fact.

There is no other way to explain how an imperial vase from the Qianlong Emperor ended in England.

The Opium Wars, which started in 1839, were the beginning of a long dark period in China’s history that would not end until after 1976 when stability returned and China started rebuilding.

A once proud and powerful culture that has survived from the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C. to 1839 (nineteen dynasties) was brought low and the Chinese were treated by the West as if they were second class savages to be indoctrinated (another word for brainwashed) into Western, Christian ways.

No, it wasn’t about the money. Whoever won the vases at those two auctions has returned some honor to a modern China discovering how to stand tall and proud again.

Why did the winning bidders do it? Because they can.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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