Midnight Marauders Dig Up Ancient Chinese Porcelain at Construction Site

Ceramic pieces on display in the Palace Museum of Beijing. It is reported that nearly 100 diggers, from Jiangxi, Anhui, and Henan provinces, are all professional at digging up porcelain artifacts. They work in groups of three to five and they use professional tools. (Xuan Che/Flickr)
Ceramic pieces on display in the Palace Museum of Beijing. It is reported that nearly 100 diggers, from Jiangxi, Anhui, and Henan provinces, are all professional at digging up porcelain artifacts. They work in groups of three to five and they use professional tools. (Xuan Che/Flickr)

Around 100 people have been secretly digging up ancient treasures over the last month at a construction site in China. A large amount of ancient Chinese porcelain produced in the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties was recently discovered at the construction site in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, in Eastern China.

It is reported that at least 10 intact pieces of porcelain have been found and stolen.

Each night after 10 PM people start gathering at a construction site in the south of Hangzhou, according to the Qianjiang Evening News. Wearing headlights, carrying hoes, and, with sacks slung over their shoulders, they scale the fence to dig the porcelain and tiles from Longquan kiln.

“There would be a lot of people here every night, and they dug for a long time, even overnight,” said Ms. Chiang, a Hangzhou City resident.  It is said that some have dug up valuable items.

Another report said that on Nov. 27, at around 11 PM, at least 30 people were digging with a hoe at the site, and many of them found something. At around 12:30 AM, the number of people jumped to 80 or 90. The site was glittering with headlights. By 1 AM, the number of treasure hunters was nearly 100, and there were porcelain or tile pieces in almost everyone’s sacks.

Professional archaeological diggers

Yang, a self-employed archaeological digger, said that he has been digging at this site for more than one-and-a-half months. He has witnessed more than 10 treasures being unearthed, including a Yueyao celadon bowl, a Longquan bowl, and a kiln-fired Guanyin figure.

To put the possible value of these items in perspective, a Song Dynasty Yueyao celadon flower edged bowl sold at Christie’s auction house in New York in September 2013 for well over its estimate of $6,000 to $8,000 for $37,500. Celadon was a glazing process that reached jade-like perfection during the Song Dynasty. Longquan, an area in Zhejiang Province, was famous for its quality ceramics. Antique Chinese ceramics are a highly sought commodity at international auctions.

ancient chinese porcelain

A piece of celadon ceramic vase displayed in the Palace Museum of Beijing. (Xuan Che/Flickr)

It is reported that nearly 100 diggers, from Jiangxi, Anhui, and Henan provinces, are all professional at digging up porcelain artifacts. They work in groups of three to five and they use professional tools. Then they divide up the money by selling whatever they dig up. It’s really lucky if they find a porcelain piece that is better preserved.

Yang dug up a broken bowl with a leaf pattern on the rim, and he was immediately surrounded by people wanting to buy it. The bidding started at 1,500 yuan (approximately $246). The artifact eventually sold for 12,000 yuan (approximately $1,970). When walking out of the digging site, both the digger and the buyer attracted the envious looks of diggers still working hard to find something.

It has become well known that porcelains from the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties have been unearthed at multiple construction sites in Hangzhou, and many professional diggers have come digging illegally. According to lawyers, people digging up porcelains could potentially face criminal charges.

Source: Epoch Times

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