A viral web series featuring a jade teapot’s daring escape from the British Museum is being adapted into a movie.
About the series: “Escape from the British Museum,” a popular series on Douyin, follows the teapot — a Chinese cultural relic — that magically transforms into a woman. With the help of a journalist, it attempts to flee the British Museum and find a way back to its homeland.
Real-life basis: Developed by Douyin creators Pancake Fruit and Summer Sister, the three-episode series was launched on Aug. 30 and garnered 370 million views in its first two weeks. The anthropomorphic lead is believed to be based on a contemporary jade teapot crafted in 2011 by Chinese artist Yu Ting, which was bought by the British Museum in 2017.
Addressing the subject, a British Museum spokesperson released a statement to The Guardian:
We would emphasize the jade teapot in the collection is not a historical object and similar modern items are available for purchase in China today.
On Sept. 15, the China Film Administration announced that it approved a feature-length animated version of the film filed by Manen Film Company, according to The Paper. Written by Wang Xuewen, the animation follows Chinese cultural relics that have been in the British Museum for over 100 years. The artifacts gain consciousness “on the eve of Spring Festival” and “escape from the British Museum because they miss their motherland and return to China for the new year.”
Mixed reaction: The British Museum has long faced criticism for refusing to return looted artifacts from different cultures. While the concept of a magical teapot has captivated many, reactions on social media have been mixed. Some viewers were emotionally moved; others questioned whether the artifacts would survive China’s Cultural Revolution if they had remained in the country.
Ongoing debate: This development comes amid heated discussions among Chinese netizens regarding the status of Chinese artifacts housed in the British Museum. The state-backed publication Global Times characterized the museum as a microcosm of British colonial expansion and demanded the repatriation of Chinese cultural relics.