New Year Special: A Look Back at China’s Purloined Pekingese

Bronze animal statues weren’t the only thing looted from the Old Summer Palace when it was put to the torch by British and French troops at the conclusion of the Arrow War in 1860; the imperial kennel was robbed as well.

A set of purloined Pekingese dogs were among the booty taken from the sacked gardens as part of the spoils of war. Soldiers discovered five little pooches cowering amidst the noise and the confusion and scooped them up before presenting them to their officers.

Let’s pause for a moment, on the eve of the Year of the Dog, to reflect on a group of soldiers not just looting priceless art and treasures, but also grabbing imperial puppies on the way out of town. That’s cold.