Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts

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via Pattaya Mail, 22 Nov 2017:

Bangkok – The Ministry of Culture is speeding up the process for the return of ancient Thai artifacts from overseas. The ministry’s ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of artifacts that originated from Thailand and recently acknowledged the verification of 14 ancient items currently in the possession of the Honolulu Museum of Art […]

Source: Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts – Pattaya Mail

Categories: Thailand


Proposed extension of the U.S.-Cambodia cultural property agreement

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From Dr. Catherine P. Foster of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State. Please lend your voice in support of this agreement; we’ve had a number of high-profile repatriations from the US to Cambodia over the past few years, and they are facilitated by agreements such as these.


Dear colleagues,

It is with pleasure I bring to your attention that the United States and Cambodia have proposed another 5-year extension of the cultural property agreement first entered into in 2003 under the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, which implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Official announcement of the proposal can be found here.

The President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) will meet October 23-24 to review this proposed extension and to formulate its recommendations. I encourage you to submit comments to the CPAC regarding the proposed agreement extension, focusing on the four factors or “determinations” that the CPAC must consider:

All comments must be submitted in writing by October 15. Use, enter docket DOS-2017-0036, and follow the prompts to submit written comments.

CPAC will also hold an open session of its meeting on October 23 at 10:00 am EDT. I also encourage you to participate in this open session, which will be available using the Zoom platform from your work or home office. More details will be posted on the Cultural Heritage Center website in mid-October. More information is available in the CPAC meeting announcement.

Joy in Sa Kaew as US museum agrees to return stone carving to temple

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via The Nation, 25 June 2017: A lintel from a Khmer temple will be returned from the US to Thailand where the temple stands.

About 100 local villagers attending a ritual to worship supernatural beings at Praasaat Khao Luon in Sa Kaew’s Ta Phraya district on Sunday were overjoyed to hear that the Khmer temple’s lintel would be returned from the United States.

Source: Joy in Sa Kaew as US museum agrees to return stone carving to temple

Khmer jewelry returns to Cambodia, twice, last month

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In two separate events Angkorian jewelry was returned to Cambodia late last month. The first set was from a planned sale at a UK-based auction house which was listed lost November; the second was volunteered by a Hungarian art collector who said he had bought the pieces but “didn’t provide details on how they were acquired”.

Source: Collection of ‘Priceless’ Artifacts Given to National Museum – The Cambodia Daily (25 April 2017)


Ancient Angkorian Jewelry Set Recovered From UK Art Dealership – VOA Khmer (26 April 2017)

Ancient jewellery to return: ministry – Phnom Penh Post (24 April 2017)

Categories: Cambodia


Repatriation of artefacts spark interest in Cambodians

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Repatriated head at the National Museum of Phnom Penh. 20160413

A story on how the recent spate of artefact repatriations to Cambodia has sparked a renewed interest in the country’s past.

Repatriated head at the National Museum of Phnom Penh. 20160413

Repatriated head at the National Museum of Phnom Penh. 20160413

Returned Artifacts Stir New Interest in Cambodian Antiquity
VOA Cambodia, 13 April 2016

On a recent Friday afternoon Choup Leakhena, 18, was wondering around Phnom Penh’s National Museum, taking selfies with some of the institution’s impressive—and growing—collection of ancient Khmer sculpture.

A freshman at Pannasastra University who hails from Takmao city in Kandal province, Leakhena told VOA Khmer that the beauty of the works gave her a sense of national pride.

“I love and appreciate these masterpieces, such as the apsara”—a celestial nymph from Hindu mythology—“the statues of [12th century Khmer monarch] Jayavarman VII, Vishnu and Buddha,” she said. “I am able to see into life in the past.”

Artifacts looted from Cambodia’s ancient temples during decades of conflict have started to flow back into the country, giving young Cambodians like Leakhena an opportunity to embrace the country’s cultural heritage and history.

“I came here because I want to learn about it,” she said. “Finally, I can see [the sculptures] and I can admire our Khmer ancestors, who created such precious pieces for us. It’s really unique. Other countries don’t have such amazing artworks.”

In a remarkably successful campaign in recent years, the Cambodian government has identified looted artifacts abroad and initiated legal efforts to reclaim them. And the tide appears to have turned, with many of the treasures spirited away and sold on the black market now finding their way back to the nation that made them.

Full story here.

Categories: Cambodia


Brahma heads returned to Cambodia

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Returned Brahma head from Koh Ker. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160331

In addition to the statue of Rama, two more sculptures – heads of Brahma – from Koh Ker were returned to Cambodia last month.

Returned Brahma head from Koh Ker. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160331

Returned Brahma head from Koh Ker. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160331

More looted antiquities welcomed home
Phnom Penh Post, 31 March 2016

For the second time in less than a week, the National Museum held a ceremony yesterday marking the homecoming of priceless Angkorian artifacts looted during the civil war.

Two 10th-century Brahma heads, looted from a temple at the Koh Ker archaeological site in Preah Vihear, were added to the museum’s collection of antiquities, alongside a 10th-century Rama statue returned by an American museum on Monday.

The heads, which had formerly belonged to an unnamed private collector in Paris, were discovered by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong in 1994 while he was the Cambodian ambassador to France, according to the release.

Full story here.

Koh Ker Rama statue returns to Cambodia

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Koh Ker statue returns to Cambodia. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160329

The last Koh Ker statue not in a private collection has finally been returned to Cambodia by the Denver Art Museum in a ceremony last month.

Koh Ker statue returns to Cambodia. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160329

Koh Ker statue returns to Cambodia. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160329

Pomp greets Rama statue’s return from US
Phnom Penh Post, 29 March 2016

Ancient Khmer Rama Statue Officially Received by Government
Cambodia Daily, 29 March 2016

US museum returns 10th century Khmer statue to Cambodia
AP, via Washington Post, 28 March 2016

US museum returns ancient Hindu god statue to Cambodia
BBC News, 28 March 2016

US Museum Returns Stolen Rama Statue
Cambodia Daily, 29 February 2016

Cambodian warrior comes home: Denver Art Museum returns Khmer statue
The Art Newspaper, 26 February 2016

Recently returned after 30 years in a US museum, a priceless Angkorian statue looted from war-torn Cambodia in the early 1970s was feted at the Council of Ministers yesterday.

The 1.6-metre-tall 10th-century Torso of Rama statue was returned by the Denver Art Museum after archaeologists from the Apsara Authority were able to prove that the artefact was looted from the Prasat Chen temple in Preah Vihear province, National Museum director Kong Vireak said yesterday.

The statue’s return, which actually took place in late February, was officially marked in a handover ceremony at the Council of Ministers yesterday morning.

Using forensic techniques, the archaeologists demonstrated that the statue, which is missing its head, arms and feet, was originally connected with a plinth found at the Koh Ker archaeological site, which was heavily looted during the civil war.

The Denver Art Museum had reportedly purchased the footless statue in 1986 from the Doris Weiner Gallery in New York.

Full story here.

The last Koh Ker piece will return soon

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Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160130

The last Koh Ker piece that is publicly accounted for, housed in the Denver Art Museum, is the process of being repatriated – undoubtedly due to the spate of high profile returns by museums abroad.

Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160130

Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160130

Last Koh Ker piece coming home
Phnom Penh Post, 30 January 2016

In Visit, US Secretary of State Gave a Nod to Cambodian Antiquities
VOA Khmer, 29 January 2016

Cambodia is set to reclaim the last of the statues looted from the Koh Ker complex known to be kept in public collections, with a US museum agreeing to relinquish the piece from its permanent collection.

The statue of the warrior god Rama has been held by the Denver Art Museum for nearly 30 years. However, museum representatives said this week that the artefact will soon make its return to Cambodia, though an official agreement has not yet been reached.

The Rama torso – missing its head and its feet – remained on display in the museum’s Asian art gallery until last month.

“The Denver Art Museum is currently in the process of returning the 10th century Khmer sandstone sculpture to the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Christoph Heinrich, the museum’s director, wrote in an email to Post Weekend.

Full story here and here.

Harihara statue reunited after French museum returns head

Statue of Harihara reintegrated. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160122

The Musee Guimet returns the head of a Harihara, a amalgam of the gods Siva and Vishnu, which was reunited at a ceremony at the National Museum in Phnom Penh last week. Dr Alison Carter discusses more about the significance of the Harihara in a blog post here.

Statue’s Head, Body Reunited After Generations
The Cambodia Daily, 22 January 2016

Statue head reunited with body
Phnom Penh Post, 22 January 2016

Hindu god statue’s head returns to Cambodia
BBC News, 21 January 2016

France returns head of Hindu statue taken from Cambodia 130 years ago
AP, via CTV news, 21 January 2016

French museum returns looted head of Hindu god statue to Cambodia
AFP, via Straits Times, 19 January 2016

The head and body of a seventh-century Khmer statue were at last reunited on Thursday in Phnom Penh after an international agreement was brokered that allowed the head to be brought home to Cambodia from Paris, where it had spent the last 126 years.

After over a decade of negotiations that involved France’s Ministry of Culture and Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, the head was formally set on the body during a ceremony at the National Museum, where the complete statue will now reside.

Full story here.

Bronze goddess statue returned to India

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Returned bronze statue of Uma. Source: Straits Times 20151106

The Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore has officially handed the 11th century bronze statue of Uma to India, after it was identified as stolen during the investigation of antiquities dealer Subash Kapoor.

Returned bronze statue of Uma. Source: Straits Times 20151106

Returned bronze statue of Uma. Source: Straits Times 20151106

Asian Civilisations Museum hands back sculpture identified as stolen to India
Straits Times, 06 November 2015

Asian Civilisations Museum returns 11th century sculpture to India
Today, 07 November 2015

The Asian Civilisations Museum has returned to the Indian authorities an 11th-century bronze sculpture in its possesion, which has been identified as stolen from India.

The museum had last month informed the Archaeological Survey of India and the High Commission of India to Singapore of its plan to return the religious icon depicting the Hindu goddess Uma Parameshwari.

The sculpture is among hundreds of stolen cultural artefacts amounting to over $148 million in an ongoing international art smuggling case. They are believed to have been looted and sold to museums by disgraced New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor, 65, who is awaiting trial in India on charges of theft and smuggling.

Full story here and here.