Somerset

Chinese items stolen from Bath Museum of East Asian Art

Jizhou stoneware vase and soapstone figure of Dongfang Shuo Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption A Jizhou stoneware vase and soapstone figure of Dongfang Shuo were among the items stolen

Masked raiders have stolen "priceless" Chinese artefacts from a museum in Bath.

Police said the items could have been "stolen to order" by four masked men who smashed their way into the Museum of East Asian Art on Tuesday.

Jade, ceramics and gold artefacts dating from the Ming and Qing dynasty eras were among the exhibits taken.

Rachel Yuan, from the museum, said: "These items are priceless and have huge sentimental and cultural value.

"They would be very hard to replace and we are all really shocked and devastated."

Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption A jade mandarin duck and a jade monkey holding a peach
Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Early Ming dynasty gold belt plaques

Avon and Somerset Police said witnesses reported the break-in at the museum in Bennett Street at about 01:20 GMT.

The men were seen breaking into the museum through a first-floor window and making off in a dark-coloured SUV.

Among the items stolen were:

  • A jade monkey holding a peach, from the early Ming dynasty
  • Jade mandarin ducks with lotus flowers, Qing dynasty
  • An inlaid wooden covered box, Qing dynasty
  • A soapstone figure of Dongfang Shuo, Late Ming-early Qing dynasty
  • A set of 14 gold belt plaques, early Ming dynasty
  • A Jizhou stoneware vase, southern Song dynasty
Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption A Zitan inlaid wooden covered box
Image copyright Google
Image caption The Museum of East Asian Art is said to have been targeted by thieves six years ago

DS Matthew Reed said: "We suspect this to be a targeted attack with the artefacts possibly stolen to order.

"These items range in monetary value, but their cultural significance is priceless."

Police seized a white Ford Transit van, which had been stolen from Ballance Street and was left at the scene.

The museum is closed until 5 May and said it will need to raise money to repair damage caused.

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