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Taiwan Buddhist helps lost statue head home after 20 years

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- For some 1,500 years, the 0.47-meter-tall Buddha at Youju Temple Tower in north China's Hebei Province brought a tinge of the North Qi dynasty to the temple.

The white marble figure, which was made by order of a North Qi emperor around 556, represented state-of-the-art craftsmanship at that time.

Archaeologists believe that to prevent the statue from being stolen, the gate of the tower was deliberately made smaller than the statue.

That plan seemed to have worked until 1996, when four thieves cut off its head and sold it overseas. The thieves were caught soon afterwards, but the head was nowhere to be found.

In 2014, a local follower presented a Buddha head to Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order in Taiwan. Hsing Yun asked mainland cultural heritage authorities for help find the body which matched the head.

Which led Liu Jianhua, one of the archaeologists who was supposed to be looking after the Buddha when its head was chopped off, to make a trip to Taiwan. The moment she saw the head, she knew what it was.

Master Hsing Yun decided to make the statue whole, and, last May, the body was transported to the island and reunited with the head. On Friday, the 90-year-old Buddhist escorted the head to the mainland himself.

"The sea can not sever our historical bond, nor can it cut off our connection and blood lineage," said Hsing Yun. "Our common Chinese cultural traditions can not be chopped off by external forces."

The complete statue will be exhibited at the National Museum of China on March 1 before being moved into a museum in Hebei.

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