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Oldest Calligraphy Fetches Record Price
A rare calligraphy from the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD) of ancient China, with a history of over 1,500 years, supposedly the oldest of the kind in China, has fetched a record price of 22 million yuan (about US$2.65 million), announced a spokesman with China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd on Friday.

The scroll, written by Suo Jing, an ode to a departing army, has been purchased by the Palace Museum according to its right of priority in purchasing rare ancient Chinese cultural relics.

The rights are stipulated by the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics adopted last October, said the spokesman.

In approving cultural relics listed for auction, state administrative departments may give certain state-owned organizations the privilege to buy precious cultural relics from the auction list, with the price to be negotiated by participating traders.

The scroll was originally placed on an auction list reserved for state-owned museums and state art companies on the last day of China Guardian's two-day spring auction fair scheduled to open on Saturday.

Sources from the Palace Museum said they decided to buy the relic after consulting a group of cultural experts who made a careful study and appraisal of the art work, with the support of the cultural and financial departments.

The transfer won the consent of the owner of the scroll, said a spokesman for China Guardian Auctions Co. Ltd.

Suo Jing, who was born in 239 AD, was a prominent calligrapher in ancient China and the "ode to a departing army" is his only existing work.

Apart from Suo Jing's personal calligraphy, the scroll also bears personal writings by Emperor Gaozong of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The rare piece of calligraphy, which had been passed down from generation to generation, was once lost in 1945. It has reappeared later on.

(Xinhua News Agency July 12, 2003)

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