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Chinese Museum Pays $4.5 Million for Ancient Calligraphy - 2003-08-04

The Shanghai Museum has paid $4.5 million to retrieve a 1,000-year-old collection of Chinese calligraphy.

Museum officials said Monday they purchased the four-volume set of books known as the "Chunhuage Tie" from an American collector.

The "Chunhuage Tie" features works by master calligraphers who lived before the 10th-century Song Dynasty. Local art experts agree the collection is one of China's most valuable cultural relics.

The China Daily newspaper said the books were assembled in the 10th century for Emperor Taizong. They include the works of 100 calligraphers going back to the fourth century.

The books disappeared from China in the 1940s. They surfaced in the 1980s at an auction in Hong Kong. But the museum could not raise the necessary funds and the books were bought by the American collector for $300,000.

China recently has increased efforts to recover its art treasures. Many Chinese masterpieces were taken out of the country during decades of war, while others were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.