China furious after American 'steals terracotta warrior's thumb' at museum


The statue that temporarily lost its left thumb, called the Cavalryman, dates back to 210 and 209 B.C. It is one of 10 elegant Chinese Terracotta warrior statues now on display at the Franklin Institute.

According to an arrest affidavit filed Friday, 24-year-old Michael Rohana was attending an Ugly Sweater Party at the Franklin Institute December 21 when he entered the "Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor" exhibit.

Returning, Rohana used his cellphone as a flashlight as he stepped up onto a platform where a calvaryman stood, put his arm around the statue, then took a selfie with it.

There, he broke off the digit from the statue's left hand and placed it in his pocket.

"Whoever agreed to use our ancestor's funerary objects to curry favour with foreigners should be the one "severely punished" first", wrote one user.

Comments from an unnamed official from the same organization also appeared in the Beijing Qingnian Bao, a Communist newspaper, calling the crime a "destruction and theft of mankind's cultural heritage", according to the New York Times.

While the United States museum has apologised for the incident, an official from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, which arranged for the loan of 10 of the statues, condemned the act and said Rohana should be handed a severe penalty, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre loaned 10 of the prized statues to the USA institution. The works came from one of China's most important archaeological finds.

Rohana is now out on bail and has handed over his passport, Xinhua reported.

Museum workers first noticed the warrior's damaged hand on 8 January this year with the Federal Bureau of Investigation tracing the incident to Mr Rohana.

He added that the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre would be sending two experts to Philidelphia to fix the figure and that it would be seeking compensation.

In a statement on Wednesday night, the Franklin Institute said "standard closing procedures were not followed" by a security contractor on the night of the party. The special exhibit will run through March 4th. The army was created to protect Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. It is one of 10 Chinese terracotta warriors on loan to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Another group of 10 terracotta warriors are on display at the World Museum in the British city of Liverpool, where they will remain until October.