Saving Antiquities For Everyone (SAFE) has a country report for the state of antiquities trade in Vietnam. The author of the piece is a personal friend of mine.
Written by: Rebecca K. Jones
During the early 2000s there was a massive increase in antiquities looting at shipwrecks along Vietnam’s coast. The government responded by tightening laws, as items from sunken ships without provenance data belong to the state. Along the main antiquities street, Le Cong Kieu near Ben Thanh Market in central Ho Chi Minh, approximately 80% of the items are reproductions. Many traders are honest about the sale of replicas, but many others frequently sell replicas as real artifacts. This dishonesty bleeds into the international art and antiquity market.
The Cambodian Museum of Culture has just published a book of stolen antiquities from the Battambang museum, a move which will likely assist in the future repatriation of artefacts if they show up in the art market.
The Ministry of Culture released a book on Monday of about 68 Khmer sculptures that were stolen from museums in Battambang City during decades of war and conflict, and intends to use the publication in a global search to recover the artifacts.
The result of a painstaking investigation by a restoration team from the National Museum assisted by the French School of the Far East (EFEO), the book proves that, until the early 1970s, the sculptures were at the Battambang Provincial Museum or the Wat Po Veal Museum.
“We want, first of all, to alert the owners of these pieces that what they have is illegally owned: This belongs to the national inventory of Cambodia,” said Anne Lemaistre, country representative for Unesco, which supported the book project.
Experts (although the article is quite vague who exactly these experts are) in Ho Chi Minh City are calling for better ways to streamline the process in which museums procure artifacts for their collections.
Cambodia has published a red list of artefacts aimed at stemming the looting of artefacts from the country, to be distributed to museums, auction houses and border checkpoints. You can help, too, by supporting local businesses when in Cambodia and not buying marketplace antiquities!
It’s mid-December already, and I haven’t posted any news so far on account of being in Hanoi for the first couple of weeks, and then falling majorly sick after returning. So rather than trying to catch up with three week’s worth of archaeology news from Southeast Asia, here’s all of them in one brilliant link dump, sorted by date (most recent ones first) and country.
A cache of 9-10th century Champa artefacts consisting of jewelery and ceramics were handed over to the Quang Ngai Province Museum by the police. The antiquities were found by a man from a local village who had dug them up and sold them to a “strange man” before being caught by the police.
This feature from the Myanmar Times talks about the illegal antiquities trade in Southeast Asia, particularly how antiques from all over Southeast Asia exit this region through Thailand (and Singapore, too). The underground demand for such artefacts have led to tighter (if somewhat hard to enforce and control) laws on the export of artefacts, but also to a secondary market in manufacturing antiques for sale, to be passed off as the real thing!
The International Council of Museums will soon publish a Red List to help identify antiquities that have been smuggled out of Cambodia. This list will help some ways to stem the trade of antiquities from the plundered country, but more effort is still needed, especially when Thailand and Singapore are key transit points for these antiquities and the two countries are not signatories to the 1970 UN resolution on trafficking antiquities.