The Story Behind China’s Ivory Ban

The Story Behind China’s Ivory Ban.

In 1974, a gift of the People’s Republic of China, was made to the United Nations. It was the ivory carving of the “Chengdu-Kunming Railway,” carved on eight ivory tusks (see photo above), which together weighed more than 300 kilogrammes. The finished piece is 150cm in length and 110cm in height and weighs more than 150 kilogrammes. The Chengdu-Kunming Railway was opened to traffic on 1 July 1970, running from Chengdu, Szechuan Province, in the north, to Kunming in the south and covers a distance of 1,085 kilometres. With the iron chained suspension bridge on the Tatu River, over which the Chinese Red Army made a force crossing during the Long March, as the background, this ivory carving showcases in the centre the Tatu River steel bridge, which is typical of the many bridges built along this line, and uses it as a link to make the composition an integral whole. The main portion of the piece consists of two huge peaks connected by the railway bridge and the myriad mountains and rivers through which the railway passes. How did a national cultural heritage in ivory carving came to be banned in China? Read on.

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