Beijing, 6 June (Zhongxin Net) -- Question: Who is stealing and selling the Eastern Han Dynasty copper mirror that first recorded Zhaojun's departure from the Shogun is in the people?

China News Network reporter Guo Chaokai

In 2020, the appearance of a copper mirror of the Eastern Han Dynasty attracted great attention from the domestic academic and collecting circles. This copper mirror is engraved with inscriptions "China" and "Xiongnu", and records the story of Zhaojun's escape, which is the earliest known cultural relic of Wang Zhaojun. However, such a national first-class cultural relic was stolen and excavated by criminals from the field, and the price rose from 8,260 yuan to <>.<> million yuan after several reversals. Who is stealing precious artifacts? And who is buying and selling behind the scenes?

Why was the Eastern Han Copper Mirror bought and sold?

The story of Zhaojun's escape is a long-standing theme in the history of Chinese literature, which has led to a wealth of literary and television works. During the Western Han Dynasty, Wang Zhaojun and the pro-Xiongnu, in the following decades, the Han Dynasty and the Xiongnu were spared border disputes, which is called "military revolution without China's security". However, in the long history of history, the confusion between historical facts and literature often tends to bias the truth. Cultural relics, on the other hand, have become an important basis for examining the age of the formation of story elements.

In 2020, the appearance of a copper mirror of the Eastern Han Dynasty, which recorded the story of Zhaojun's departure, attracted great attention from people in the cultural relics community. This copper mirror with a diameter of 21.5 cm, a margin thickness of 1.2 cm, and a weight of 1434 grams has a flat spherical button in the center of the back, and the button base is surrounded by thirteen breast studs, with an inscription of twelve characters, which is the name of the maker and the auspicious language: Zhongzuo, Yihou Wang, Fu (service) this (mirror) Dafuchang.

There are four breast nails in the middle of the inner area of the copper mirror, dividing the image into four sets of fan-shaped areas, each of which is arranged with portraits of people and horses, and has inscriptions: Wang Zhujun / Great Empress / Hu Wang Che / Hu Master Book. There is a long inscription in the outer area, in the form of seven words of poetry, a total of seven crosses, the inscription is "Meng Chun is the first year of the first month, and His Majesty King Hu sees the nobleman." The queen of the harem is Zhaojun, and she is hidden and poor. When the edict is not seen (again) lost his mind, he is forced to receive the edict first. Bei (back) went to China to serve the Hu people, and Han summoned the Xiongnu ministers. The famous king returned to the righteous people, and the military revolution did not need China's security", recording in detail the story of Zhaojun's escape.

Its appearance proves in physical form that the story of Zhaojun and his relatives has been widely circulated in the Eastern Han Dynasty, and has also become an important clue to explore the development and evolution of Wang Zhaojun's story.

Shi Yanyan, director and associate researcher of the Collection Preservation Department of Luoyang Museum, pointed out that this copper mirror is the earliest known cultural relic that records the story of Zhaojun's departure, and has precious historical and artistic value.

A first-class cultural relic of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the copper mirror "Zhaojun Came Out of the Plug", and the copper mirror is engraved with the word "China" in 2 places. Photo courtesy of Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau

What is even more valuable is that the inscription on the copper mirror appears the word "China" twice. The inscription states that Wang Zhaojun "doubled (back) to the Hu people in China" and contrasted "China" (Han Dynasty) with "Xiongnu", which is the earliest known physical evidence that explicitly contrasts the Central Plains Dynasty with foreign regimes and calls himself "China". Shi Yanyan said that this shows that in the Han Dynasty, compared with the Xiongnu and other foreign regimes, "China" is already the Central Plains regime, and the descendants of Yanhuang have a deep understanding and identification of themselves, which is conducive to strengthening national cohesion.

However, such a priceless treasure is a suspected stolen cultural relic.

Shortly after the copper mirror was unveiled, the public security organs discovered through investigation that the copper mirror was suspected to be sold by Li Moubei, a Luoyang cultural relics dealer, to Guangdong businessman Luo at a high price. As it was not only a precious cultural relic but also involved in the illegal trade in cultural relics, the Luoyang Public Security Bureau immediately set up a special work class to quickly carry out investigation. In July 2021, the case was listed as a case supervised by the Ministry of Public Security.

The copper mirror was sold layer by layer for 4 lots, and the price increased dozens of times

Where did this copper mirror come from? And how did it fall into the hands of Li Moubei, a cultural relics dealer? Everything is still unknown.

In order to clear the fog, Li Xiaodan, a police officer from the Cultural Relics Crime Brigade of the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the Luoyang Public Security Bureau, and others decided to start with two key figures, Li Moubei, a seller of cultural relics from Luoyang, and Luo Mou, a Guangdong businessman who bought the buyer.

The public security organs chase and arrest the criminal suspects Courtesy of the Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau

After investigation, the Luoyang police learned that Li Moubei, a cultural relics dealer, had long lived by buying and selling cultural relics. Although the education level is not high, only graduated from junior high school, Li Moubei is very good at packaging himself. He often holds some lectures on cultural relics knowledge, and also posts treasures and treasures on social platforms. After careful operation, he became a well-known "big coffee in the industry" in Luoyang's cultural relics circle.

"People in the circle call Li Moubei 'big coffee', but he basically does not do business with Luoyang people, he does business with outsiders." Years of intuition in handling cases made Li Xiaodan realize that Li Moubei is not simple, and there must be a lot of important cultural relics involved behind it.

After 11 months of hard work, the Luoyang police gradually investigated the framework of the criminal network, sorted out more than 40 people suspected of reselling cultural relics, and hundreds of suspected transaction information.

Luoyang police found a large number of cultural relics from the home of criminal suspect Li Moubei. Photo courtesy of Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau

After some analysis, Zhang Mou'an, who opened an antique shop in Changsha, Hunan Province, entered the field of vision of the Luoyang police. This person is also a professional cultural relics dealer and has a close relationship with Li Moubei. The "Zhaojun Out of the Stuff" copper mirror in Li Moubei's hand was most likely purchased from Zhang Mou'an.

In September 2021, the Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau organized the first centralized arrest operation, and Li Moubei, Zhang Mouan and others were arrested and brought to justice. Li Moubei explained the criminal facts that he purchased the copper mirror of "Zhaojun Chusai" from Zhang Mou'an and sold it to Luo for 9.260 million yuan, which confirmed the police's inference in the preliminary research and judgment.

Li Moubei is very cunning, he sold the "Zhaojun out of the plug" copper mirror to Luo at a price of 260.1000 million, but he claimed that the copper mirror was sold for a high price of more than <> million yuan, mainly to confuse the public, while coaxing the price of the copper mirror, but also raised his status in the "circle".

According to the criminal facts explained by Li Moubei, the Luoyang police continued to chase and dig deep into the ins and outs of the copper mirror to buy and sell, and finally found out the origin of this copper mirror:

It turned out that as early as 2014, the criminal suspect Lin Mouyong and four others illegally excavated this "Zhaojun out of the plug" copper mirror in a farmland in Sugar Pressing Village, Pingle Town, Pingle County, Guilin City. At that time, the four people also dug up some clay pots, but they felt that the clay pots were not valuable, so they broke the clay pots and kept only the copper mirror. In the second half of the same year, through the introduction of an intermediary, Lin Mouyong sold this copper mirror to Guo Mouqiang in Lipu City, Guangxi for 4,8 yuan. Subsequently, Zhang Mou'an and Zhang Mouwei, cultural relics dealers in Changsha, Hunan Province, jointly bought the copper mirror from Guo Mouqiang for 20,240 yuan, and then sold it to Li Moubei for 20.260 million yuan. Li Moubei added another <>,<> yuan and sold the copper mirror to Luo for <>.<> million yuan.

The copper mirror was sold 4 lots, and the price increased from 8,260 to 32.5 million, an increase of <>.<> times. At this point, the whole chain of the "Zhaojun out of the jam" copper mirror case was broken, and the truth came out.

More than 5000,<> artifacts were recovered

Following the chain of buying and selling, the Luoyang police followed the line and expanded the results of the war. From the discovery of relevant clues in October 2020, after nearly a year of meticulous operation by the civilian police participating in the war, the case expanded from a vague single-person case clue to a series of major cases involving many people and involving a wide area.

In September 2021 and June 9, the Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau organized two centralized arrest operations, rushing to more than 2022 provinces and cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, and arrested a total of 6 criminal suspects.

The Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau handed over the seized cultural relics to the museum. Photo courtesy of Luoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau

Up to now, 33 people have been sentenced in this case (including 15 people with more than five years in prison, including 3 people with more than ten years), and 109 cases have been solved, involving crimes such as theft of ancient tombs, resale of cultural relics, fraud, and concealment of criminal proceeds.

What is even more shocking is that the Luoyang police have found more than 5000,8 cultural relics from these criminals, including 67 first-class cultural relics such as the "Zhaojun Escape" bronze mirror, 592 second-class cultural relics, 4380 third-class cultural relics, more than 54,2 general cultural relics, and <>.<> kilograms of ancient coins. Fortunately, all the cultural relics involved in the case have now been recovered. (End)