Friday, June 6, 2014

Sweden Returns Ancient Andean Textiles to Peru

I mentioned these textiles on this blog earlier, it seems a resolution has been reached (Ralph Blumental, 'Sweden Returns Ancient Andean Textiles to Peru', ArtsBeat - New York Times Blog, June 5, 2014).
A mummy’s cloak with tiles of animals that appear to signify time periods or the seasons.One of the world’s most precious troves of looted antiquities — brilliantly colored burial shrouds from an Andean civilization that flourished a thousand years before Columbus — is on its way back to Peru for a ceremonial handover in Lima. The 89 embroidered textiles, named for the Paracas peninsula where they were unearthed around 1930 and then smuggled out by the Swedish consul, ended up in possession of the city of Gothenburg and were displayed there in the National Museum of World Culture. Gothenburg has never disputed that the textiles, some dating back nearly 3,000 years, were “illegally exported” and has long been in talks with Peru for their return. Now, said Peru’s vice minister of cultural patrimony, Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, the mayor of Gothenburg is delivering four of them on June 18. One, Mr. Castillo Butters said, is a woven mummy’s cloak, about 40 by 60 centimeters, with tiles of animals that appear to signify time periods or the seasons. Mr. Castillo Butters said he viewed it as, “the most important textile from Peru and one of the most important in the world.” Several other Paracas textiles remain in other museums. Because the textiles are extremely fragile and require delicate handling, the last pieces from Sweden won’t arrive until 2021, he said.  
UPDATE 9th June 2014
Donna Yates, 'Sacking the Necropolis: how 100 Peruvian mummy textiles ended up in Sweden',  Anonymous Swiss Collector 9 June 2014.

WA Aboriginal leaders retrieve secret sacred items taken a century ago

A group of Aboriginal elders from northern WA travelled south to collect sacred objects taken by explorers or researchers more 100 years ago. They're human remains and sacred objects that were seized as souvenirs or research material since the late 1800's, some of the latter are so sacred they cannot be described to outsiders or seen by women or children. This is just the latest in a stream of returns being made to Aboriginal groups around Australia under a state funded repatriation programme. Much of the activity has been occurring in WA's north, where the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre has been helping traditional owners negotiate with museums and universities. Australian institutions have come a long way in how they view Indigenous artefacts and are working hard to right the wrongs of the past, particularly in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural property, where those relationships weren't necessarily on an equal footing, and where there were situations where people were either coerced or forced to surrender items, or these things were acquired without their knowledge. This repatriation program attempts to address those issues to some degree. It's not just Australian institutions involved. There are a lot of remains still in institutions overseas: in America, Germany, France, Poland, England, South Africa.

Source: Erin Parke, 'WA Aboriginal leaders retrieve secret sacred items taken a century ago',  Friday, June 6, 2014