Experts say 'fake' porcelains at exhibit are actually real

A Chinese porcelain bowl.

An exhibition comparing genuine and fake Chinese porcelains has become the subject of controversy after some experts said that most of the purportedly fake items - previously smashed on a TV show - were in fact genuine.

Organizers of the Beijing exhibit dismissed the accusations, stating that a battery of experts had already carefully examined the items.

The exhibition was organised by the Capital Museum and by World Collection (Tianxia Shoucang), a Beijing TV programme that evaluates ancient porcelains. The Capital Museum exhibit has more than 40 genuine ancient porcelains and more than 30 repaired fake ones, a museum spokesperson said on Monday.

World Collection, launched in 2007, shows ancient porcelains, and the collectors who bring them in must agree to let the host use a hammer to smash the porcelains that the three judges say are fake. The fakes in the exhibit were later repaired.

One exhibit skeptic is Yao Zheng, director of the jade-collection committee of the China Association of Collectors. Yao said on Monday that he believes most of the fake ones are indeed genuine.

Since the exhibition opened in May, he has arranged five to six batches of experts and collectors to the exhibition, who agreed 90 per cent of the so-called fakes ones are genuine and 30 per cent of them could reach the standards of key cultural relics under the State protection.

Yao said that the allegedly fake porcelains look very exquisite, and the production shows professional techniques.

The jade-collection committee of China Association of Collectors arranged a meeting on Monday to discuss the case and some experts said that actually the fake porcelains looks more exquisite than those genuine ones provided by the museum.

However, Han Yong, the programme's producer, rejects claims that the articles smashed in the programme were genuine.

Although TV viewers see only three judges at one time, the programme has a large team of experts, Han said. Each porcelain item is judged by at least three to five experts before it is ever shown on TV. A one-vote veto system is also in place to avoid mistakes, Han said on Monday.

Jin Yunchang, 55, an associate researcher of the Palace Museum and a panelist on several TV programs that deal with antiques, defended the TV programme, saying he had no problem with its showy destruction of forgeries.

"The format and flow of the programme is no problem. As long as it's consensual, it's OK that the programme attracts the audiences' attention by smashing the fakes," Jin said on Monday.

Jin said although the length of a TV programme is limited, the pre-appraisal procedure and rehearsal before filming is lengthy.

He also believed the experts at both the Capital Museum and the TV programme must appraise all the exhibited objects beforehand, "so it is not very likely that real antiques are mistakenly destroyed", Jin said.

Jin said arguments over antiques' authenticity never ends. Many auction disputes are eventually left unsettled.

"These all lead to a final question - who are the best experts?" Jin said, adding that China needs to establish an authorised third-party antique appraisal system as soon as possible.

The Capital Museum will listen to different opinions and suggestions about the fake porcelains from the public and investigate further, a spokesperson of the Capital Museum said on Monday.

China Daily reached the State Administration of Cultural Heritage but had not got a response by Monday.

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