musings

The Sphinx of Wrath: The Story of another Chinese Counterfeit

Egypt is exasperated about this ugly fake Sphinx of Giza with maniac eyes. Measuring 20 meters high and 60 meters long, it was erected in 2014 in Hebei Province, for the purposes of a film shoot (there’s another Sphinx in Chaozhou, Anhui, but this one has the head of a mortuary mask that (slightly) resembles that of  Tutankhamun‘s). The controversial monument adds to countless copies of famous monuments that have been erected in China in recent years: Eiffel Tower, Arc du Triomphe, Tower Bridge, White House, Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, Taj Mahal…in some areas there are replicas of entire towns or villages, such as the Austrian village Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was created to the delight of native tourists.

Mental Post-It: In the same province of Anhui you can visit a counterfeit White House…to relief yourself. The building is actually a toilet! Does Trump know that?

sphinx
You know that creepy stalker neighbor of yours?

Egypt has complained to Unesco about this outrageous  Giza Sphinx counterfeit since its construction, demanding its destruction. In 2016, the Chinese had partially obeyed, only to remove the head of the Sphinx. The headless monster was now a French Revolution martyr that came back from the dead: the head has been put in place just a couple of months ago, much to the chagrin of the Egyptian authorities. Complaining again to UNESCO, Egypt denounces an insult to its cultural heritage, intellectual property theft and ethnic breach and calls for the full destruction of the hideous monument.

If only Egypt had a nuclear program in place…

The tradition of replicas of famous monuments is well established in China. It is explained by the real estate spiral that has taken hold of the country with the increasing standard of living of the Chinese. In a hypercompetitive market, with buildings left empty, cities have to compete for ideas to attract residents.

The copy of famous monuments, amenities of the city, is part of this strategy. Living there would be a marker of social status. However, this is not a recent practice. China has a long history of copying, especially in the architectural field. For centuries, the emperors reproduced the lands they had conquered in the gardens of their palaces. These replicas go so far as to include the fauna and plants of the conquered regions. This ability to reproduce the distant land was thus a sign of the Emperor’s control over the region of origin (China is coming for you…)

Fortunately, China hasn’t filed any official complaint against the “Chinese” food served in the United States:

 

 

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