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Millions of television viewers and Internet users in China watched what government archeologists have described as a portion of the 2,500 year old skull of Gautama Buddha that was brought from India during the Song dynasty (AD 960- 1279).

The skull relic was enshrined at the Qixia Temple in the eastern Chinese province of Nanjing in a televised ceremony attended by hundreds of monks.

The official television showed discussion with experts, who said the Sakyamuni's skull remnants were sent out by Indian emperor Ashoka (BC 269-232) to different parts of the world including China.

There is a time gap of over 1200 years between the reign of Ashoka and the Song dynasty. It is not clear where the skull remnant were kept during this period. Government archaeologists said they had found the relics stored for
1000 years inside a wooden pagoda buried below the ruins of the quxi temple in Nanjing. They handed over the relics to the temple on saturday. 
The ceremony was supervised by the Buddhist Association, which has close links with the Communist Party of China. There were signs the party considered the move as an effort to promote China's "soft power" worldwide and enhance the sense of patriotism and love for heritage among the people.

Li Changchun, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the party's Central Committee, said in a signed article in the People's Daily on Saturday archaeological sites should be designated as special parks to promote a sense of patriotism and enhance the country's "soft power" globally.

Chinese experts said they have spent 10 months verifying the authenticity of the relics since they were found in August last year. It is not clear if any foreign experts were consulted during the process of verification. There was no explanation why the relics were given to the shrine instead of the usual practise of keeping them in archives and museums for scientific investigations.


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