The Leopard

4.5 Million Dollar Thumb

Man steals thumb off a Terracotta warrior and is charged with theft.

Virgina+Museum+of+Fine+Arts
Virgina Museum of Fine Arts

Virgina Museum of Fine Arts

https://www.vmfa.museum/exhibitions/exhibitions/terracotta-army-legacy-first-emperor-china/

https://www.vmfa.museum/exhibitions/exhibitions/terracotta-army-legacy-first-emperor-china/

Virgina Museum of Fine Arts

Casey Hansen

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When you hear about someone stealing something, your initial thought would be that they took money or jewelry. But have you heard of anyone stealing a thumb? The Terracotta army is one of the most famous man-made structures. It was made in China to protect the first empire and is mainly showcased in Shaanxi, China. It is also showcased worldwide. While one of the Terracotta soldiers were on display at Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, a man stole a piece of the soldier and is now being charged for theft.

The Terracotta army has been a large part of the Chinese Empire since the first emperor  (,Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC. The figures, dating from the late third century BC, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the generals being the tallest. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. There are three pits containing the Terracotta Army, which consists of, over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. The majority of the army is still buried in the pits near Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Other Terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musician. But one soldier was helpless against a man in a green sweater.

According to the Franklin Institute, on December 21, 2017, a man by the name of Michael Rohana attended a private party at the Institute without an invitation. The statue was being held in a back room that was closed off to the public. Rohana carefully slipped past the guards and came upon the statue. He started taking selfies with the statue. After about 5 minutes, he began touching the statue. Since the soldier was so old and brittle, Rohana was able to snap the thumb off with ease and flee the scene.

The thumb he took was worth 4.5 million dollars, imagine how much money it would be for the full statue. After Rhoana stole the thumb, he left the building and went home with friends in Bear, Delaware. Rhoana was then charged for theft of an artwork from the Franklin Institute.

News of this theft provoked anger and distrust in China because the Terracotta army is a national treasure and a major tourist attraction. An official from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, which organizes the displays of the statues abroad, asked for the thief to be heavily punished. “We call on the American side to severely punish the person who committed this destruction and theft of mankind’s cultural heritage,” stated the unidentified official. The official also offered to send two citizens from the United States to repair the statue.

Another Group of Terracotta warriors are now on display at the World Museum in Liverpool, England. The Museum assures that they are keeping these warriors safe from any similar incident like the one in the United States.

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