For the man who has everything, this year’s prize bauble is a 14 million yuan ($2.18 million) Dolan sheep from the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar in the China’s far west. Only 1,000 Dolan sheep exist in the world, according to breeders, and their extraordinary features have made them the latest collectors’ item for ultra-rich Chinese.
The Dolan breed has a distinctive curved nose and twin tails, as well as a long floppy ears. Originally bred from sheep in Kashgar to grow quickly and to yield more meat, the breed has since become ornamental. The price depends on the pedigree, said Liu Fenghua, a 48-year-old sheep breeder in the city of Aksu, in the far western region of Xinjiang. The darker the fleece, the better. The bigger the ears the better. The more curved the face, the better, like an eagle’s beak. The best ones have a dark body and white tail. I started breeding Dolans in 2009, buying a couple for 25,000 yuan ($3,900). The next year, I had an offer of 250,000 ($39,000) yuan for them, and the price keeps rising.
The most valuable sheep is a six-year-old owned by Majid Abdul Reyim, a breeder in Kashgar. Mr Reyim said he had received offers of 14 million yuan ($2.18 million) for it, but had not yet succumbed to a sale. That sheep is the grandfather of all the best pedigree Dolans in the region, said Mr Liu. I have one of its grandsons and that one is worth some six million yuan. I have 19 in total and I feed them dates and walnuts as well as grass.
Dolan breeders said that several families often clubbed together to buy a single sheep as an investment and then charge for its breeding rights. The top sheep can command fees of up to 300,000 ($47,000) yuan per dose of semen.
China’s sudden wealth has produced bubbles in all sorts of commodities, from tea to fine wine to jade. Last year, a Tibetan Mastiff puppy called Big Splash became the world’s most expensive dog when it was sold for close to $1.5 million in the city of Qingdao. [Telegraph]