Via CNN, 7 July 2023, By Senay Boztas

The Dutch government is returning 478 objects looted during colonial times to Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Following multiple claims from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Nigeria, the Dutch Secretary of State for Culture and Media Gunay Uslu announced the decision Thursday to repatriate objects including the “Lombok treasure,” consisting of 335 objects from Lombok, Indonesia, the Pita Maha collection, a key collection of modern art from Bali and the 18th-century Cannon of Kandy, a ceremonial weapon from Sri Lanka made of bronze, silver and gold and inlaid with rubies.

“This is a historic moment,” Uslu said in a press statement. “It’s the first time we’re following recommendations… to give back objects that should never have been brought to the Netherlands. But more than anything, it’s a moment to look to the future. We’re not only returning objects; we’re also embarking on a period of closer cooperation with Indonesia and Sri Lanka in areas like collection research, presentation and exchanges between museums.”

In 2020, a Dutch Council for Culture report produced by a committee chaired by human rights lawyer Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You recommended that the country should “unconditionally” return objects it was reasonably sure were lost involuntarily by countries under its colonial authority.

Many of the objects to be returned are in the National Museum of World Cultures. Six other colonial artifacts claimed by Sri Lanka are currently in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’ national museum of arts and history; this is the first repatriation of such artifacts from the museum following provenance research that began in 2017. The Cannon of Kandy, for instance, was looted by troops from the Dutch East India Company during the 1765 siege and plunder of Kandy, and it was later gifted to William V, Prince of Orange.

More here. 


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