The Netherlands to Return 500 Stolen Historical Artifacts to Sri-Lanka and Indonesia
The government of the Netherlands has decided to return 478 artifacts to Sri-Lanka and Indonesia that were illegally appropriated and taken from these countries during colonial times.
This is reported by CNN
Sri-Lanka, Indonesia, and Nigeria have repeatedly appealed to Amsterdam to return previously lost exhibits. Finally, Gunay Uslu, the State Secretary for Culture and Media, announced the decision to repatriate these valuable objects.
"This is a historic moment! For the first time, we are following recommendations... to return objects that should have never ended up in the Netherlands. But, above all, this is a moment when we look to the future. We are not only returning the items, but we are also initiating a period of closer cooperation with Indonesia and Sri Lanka in areas such as collection research, presentations, and museum exchanges," said Uslu.
Among the objects returning to their historical homeland is the "Lombok Treasure," consisting of 335 art and cultural artifacts from Indonesia. Additionally, there is the Pitamaha Collection, considered crucial for contemporary Balinese art, and the 18th-century Cannon of Kandy, a ceremonial weapon made of bronze, silver, gold, and adorned with rubies.
A significant number of valuable items to be returned to their historical homeland are located in the National Museum of World Cultures and the collection of the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of Art and History of the Netherlands.
Research into the origin of these artifacts began as early as 2017. As a result, it was determined that some objects were acquired through criminal means. For example, the Cannon of Kandy was looted by the Dutch East India Company during the siege of Kandy in 1765 and later gifted to Prince William V of Orange.
Cultural decolonization has become a prevalent trend among leading museums worldwide. Within this framework, former colonies are reassessing their imperial past and repatriating seized or stolen treasures to their countries of origin.
The repatriation of valuable objects previously lost by countries is a widespread phenomenon, especially after World War II. Just last month, it was announced that a painting by the renowned Italian artist Alessandro Turchi, "Madonna with Child," which was lost during the Nazi occupation of Polish territories in 1940, is being returned from Japan to Poland.
Recently, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands allowed the Allard Pierson Museum to return a collection of so-called "Scythian gold" to Ukraine after years of legal battles. In 2013, the artifacts, originally stored in museums in Ukrainian Crimea, were taken to the Netherlands for an exhibition. After the occupation of the peninsula, Russia attempted to claim ownership of these treasures, demanding their return to the Crimean museums under its control. However, Ukraine successfully proved its right to these national cultural assets.