Partygoer steals thumb from Terracotta statue at US museum

Marsha Scott
February 20, 2018

Chinese authorities are livid over the theft of a thumb from a 2,000-year-old terracotta warrior on loan to a USA museum, calling for the perpetrator to be "severely" punished.

Rohana, who comes from the U.S. state of DE, was attending an ugly Christmas jumper party at the museum when he and two associates managed to make their way into the "Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor" exhibition, the door to which was unlocked, the Beijing Youth Daily report said.

The statues were built by the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BCE, and who believed they would protect him in the afterlife.

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.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an arrest affidavit, Rohana "used a cellular telephone as a flashlight, looked at various exhibits displayed in the then-closed showroom, stepped up onto a platform supporting one of the statutes, and took a selfie with it", reported China's official Xinhua News Agency.

It is often heralded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th Century after farmers stumbled across the tomb in 1974 in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

Federal authorities said Michael Rohana, 24, from DE, stole the thumb.

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The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre loaned 10 of the prized statues to the U.S. institution.

After museum staff noticed the damage on January 8, a special agent from the FBI's Art Crime Team tracked down Rohana in DE a few days later.

Another friend said Rohana posted a photo of "a finger" from a terracotta warrior on his Snapchat account one day after the party.

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.

An official from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, who arranged for the statute's loan, "strongly condemned" the theft and called for America to severely punish the young man for his actions, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The department has sent a notice to the museum, advising it will dispatch two experts to fix the terracotta warrior. He was later released on bail.

A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia museum said that the statue will be repaired, adding that a security contractor did not follow standard procedures at the night of the alleged theft. The exhibit will run until March 4.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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