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Captain Harry Lewis Evans front room with both elephant censers and the Western Zhou water vessel pictured central.
A Chinese relic looted from the Summer Palace by a British army officer 158 years ago has sold for more than half a million pounds after it was found in the attic of an unassuming English house.
The 3,500 year old sacred Chinese bronze water vessel is one of seven known to exist, with five in museums, but Chinese officials said the stolen antiquity should be returned to China.
The rare item was taken by Captain Harry Lewis Evans when the British and French arrived at the Emperor's Summer Palace in Peking - now Beijing - during the Second Opium War.
Capt Evans wrote letters home describing the mystical palace and the looting of its treasures that took place in 1860.
Along with the rare Tiger Ying, three other Chinese bronzes sold which brought the total to £549,320 including premiums.
China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage is believed to have said it was looking into the auction and opposed the sale and purchase of illegal cultural relics.