A total of 284 illegally excavated chinaware and precious porcelain shards were recovered Tuesday in a small courtyard of Zhutong Village, Dengfeng City in central China's Henan Province.
The courtyard is filled to the brim with bits of chinaware.
Onlookers were stunned by the ordinary courtyard filled to the brim with bits of chinaware. "Judging by the shapes of the porcelain shards, the chinaware dates back to the Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties period (907-960), Song Dynasty (960-1127) and Kin Dynasty (1115-1234)," said an expert with the Henan Provincial Cultural Relics Appraisal Committee, in an excited tone. "The porcelain of two of the kilns has never been seen before. It is an important material in ceramics history research."
In the middle of the small "treasure island" stood a middle-aged farmer couple. "It was my wife who handled all those valuables. I know nothing about the cultural relics," said Zhao Danian (alias), the husband. "I only did some arrangement work."
According to Zhao, the couple's adventure began in 2004, when the wife, Wang Qiufen (alias) learned about cultural relics and excavation skills from a trader in Yuzhou City.
She then convinced her husband to enter the illegal cultural relics business. Since 2004, she has been to several antique markets all over the province, and even started to excavate relics herself.
In November 2007, Wang heard there were ancient porcelain kiln remains in Zhutong Village. She discovered pieces of porcelain on the foundation of two old houses in that village that were later confirmed as the remains of ancient kilns by experts.
Wang exchanged a carton of cigarettes and 2,000 yuan for access to excavating in the two houses. Three days later, Wang harvested dozens of bags of ancient porcelain.
The illegal operation was detected by a director of the local police station who was paying a visit to the village, and Wang and her relatives were all detained by the police. Precious porcelain recovered at the scene and from Wang's home could parallel a museum exhibition of cultural relics.
In her home Wang used the precious chinaware as ordinary cookers or containers. Even the bowls for pig feeding had a considerably long history. "We didn't need common porcelain. We wanted something invaluable," said Wang.
"They are neither archaeologists nor cultural relics protectors. In the process of digging, a great many antiques were damaged," said an employee from the local cultural relics bureau.
(China.org.cn by Huang Shan, December 6, 2007)