An ancient set of gold jewellery stolen from Cambodia and lost for decades was finally returned to the Kingdom Saturday morning, more than one year after the government first petitioned for its return.
Villagers embarked on a treasure hunt for gold when a bead was found in a rice field in Cambodia’s Takeo province. Authorities had to step in to protect the area, which had archaeological significance due to its proximity to Angkor Borei.
Residents in Takeo province’s Angkor village have flocked to look for gold in a rice field behind the village after a villager tending cows found a gold bead, though authorities have cautioned against the gold rush, saying the area has archaeological significance.
Nob Dol, chief of Prek Phtorl commune, said a mass of villagers rushed to search for gold after the villager found the bead near a dike on his way home on Thursday.
“As I’ve heard, about seven people were lucky to find small beads of gold; some small, some big,” he said. “Some said they found up to [150 grams] of gold. There was also news that some found gold worth $1,000 to $2,000, but I did not see that.”
Officials from the provincial department of culture and fine arts went to the site and asked people to stop digging the field, Dol said. The owner of the rice field also sought help from authorities to halt the digging.
When Filipino worker Berto Morales was digging on a government irrigation project in 1981, he literally struck gold. But what he found that day was worth more than its weight—he had uncovered evidence of a lost civilization.
On Friday, Asia Society New York unveiled its exhibition Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms, displaying more than 100 gold artifacts on loan from the Ayala Museum and the Central Bank of the Philippines in Manila. Most objects trace back to the Kingdom of Butuan — a still scarcely understood civilization centered on the island of Mindanao that rose to prominence in the 10th century before mysteriously declining in the 13th. But it took more than seven centuries for the objects to be found, and once they were, they wouldn’t be seen in the West for another several decades.
Gold has always factored into the history of the Philippines, a country still estimated to have as much as $1 trillion worth of untapped deposits beneath its surface. And despite what little is known about Butuan some aspects of its society clearly revolved around the precious metal.
When the exhibit of gold artifacts from the Philippines opens at the Asia Society Museum in New York City next month, visitors will be astounded by the quality and intricacy of the pieces. The fact that they date from the 10th to the 13th centuries should be even more cause for amazement.
This is the first time that these pre-colonial gold objects, on loan from the collections of Ayala Museum and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), will be exhibited in the United States.
“Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” opens Sept. 11 and will run until early January 2016.
A trove of Philippine gold from Butuan province, usually on display at the Ayala Museum in the Philippines, will be exhibited at the Asia Society in New York from this September to January next year. Having seen them before I must say the gold pieces are quite exquisite, but it is a pity there is very little contextual information to them.
About 120 gold artifacts mostly from the golden age of Butuan, a city in the Southern Philippines, will be on display at the Asia Society Museum in New York beginning September 11.
Ancient Filipinos in Kingdom of Butuan had a sophisticated culture with a fine taste for handcrafted gold items during the 10th and 11th centuries.
“The Filipinos, before they were called Filipino, were making beautiful, artistic, exquisite jewelry from gold. So it’s like King Tut of Egypt being discovered and coming to the Metropolitan Museum. Everybody went to see it. This is our King Tut,” said Community leader and philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis.
Organizers of “Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” were recently at the Philippine Consulate in New York to promote the exhibit.
“We are aiming for spectacular, not just a special this fall,” Tom Nagorski, executive vice president of Asia Society said.
The discovery of a hoard of gold has sparked a frenzy of digging by locals in Thailand’s Phatthalung province, with the Fine Arts Department trying to stem the rush in an effort to preserve archaeological material.