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Chinese officials condemn Franklin Institute after terracotta warrior thumb theft

Chinese officials condemn Franklin Institute after terracotta warrior thumb theft

Michael Rohana was recorded on security cameras taking a selfie with the statue before breaking off its left thumb during an after-hours "ugly Christmas sweater" party at the museum on 21 December.

Rohana proceeded to take selfies with the 2,000-year-old statue, known as "The Calvaryman", then snapped off the left thumb and walked away, authorities said. "We have lodged a serious protest with them", said Wu Haiyun, according to the BBC.

The life-sized statues are considered one of China's most prized archaeological discoveries.

"The terracotta warriors are national treasures of our country", the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

The Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relic Exchange Center plans to send two experts to the United States to fix the thumb, according to China's state news agency Xinhua. An official from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, the agency that arranged for the loan of the statues, seeks a "severe penalty" for the perpetrator, according to the South China Morning Post.

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When agents showed up at Rohana's home where he lives with his parents in Bear, Del. on January 13, he quickly showed them to the thumb's hiding place: his drawer.

Wu also "strongly condemned" the Franklin Institute for not looking after the statues, according to CCTV.

Chinese social media users were surprised the statues loaned out to the institute were kept less securely than those at museums back home.

The damaged statue, known as the "Cavalryman" and dating back to 210 and 209 BCE, is one of ten terracotta warrior statues now on display in the "Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor" exhibit, which opened on September 30 at the Franklin Institute. He was arrested on art theft charges and later released on bail.

Police tracked down Rohana using "surveillance footage and credit card transactions" from inside the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where the statue was on display, The Guardian reports. The army was created to protect Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. She blames the incident on a contractor who did not follow security protocols the night of the theft. The special exhibit will run through March 4th.


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