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Netherlands Returns Stolen Artifacts To Indonesia, Sri Lanka

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The Dutch government has decided to return some 478 highly valuable and culturally significant artworks, which had been looted during the Dutch colonial era.

From a richly decorated cannon to precious metals and jewellery — the Netherlands is returning hundreds of stolen art and cultural artifacts to Indonesia and Sri Lanka, former Dutch colonies.  Most of these works are highly valuable and culturally significant, the Ministry of Culture said on Thursday in The Hague. 

It is a “historic moment” said State Secretary Gunay Uslu, adding that objects are being returned that “should never have been in the Netherlands.”

The decision to return some 478 objects was made after considering the recommendations by a government-appointed commission last year, which looked into illegal Dutch colonial acquisitions now being displayed in museums in the Netherlands. 

The commission was set up based on a request by Indonesia to return the art pieces and natural history collections from its former colonial ruler.

What was looted by Dutch troops?

Some of the objects to be handed back include the so-called “Lombok treasure” — a collection of hundreds of precious stones, gold and silver objects, looted by the Dutch colonial army from Indonesia’s island of Lombok in 1894. A part of this treasure was returned to Indonesia in 1977.

The cannon of Kandy, another highlight from the looted pieces, will also be returned to Sri Lanka. The ceremonial weapon is made of bronze, silver and gold, inlaid with rubies.

The barrel, decorated with the symbols of the King of Kandy, is believed to have fallen into Dutch hands in 1765.

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Since 1800, the piece has been in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of art and history.

A ceremony has been planned this week to officialy hand over the looted artifacts to Indonesia. 

Source: dw.com, Photo: facebook/KerisLombok

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