The Ethiopians appear to be doing rather well at reclaiming their heritage at the moment.
Following on from various articles last year about how the Tabots were locked away in the Museum store, where not even the director was allowed to see them, they are now leaving the museum on (permanent?) loan to an Ethiopian church in London.
The British Museum is also co-operating on the development of new museums in Ethiopia.
I’m assuming that this announcement has little to do with the requests made by the Ethiopians earlier this week for the return of various cultural treasures, as this has to have been under discussion for a long time before that. Something seems a bit odd about the timing though, that the two events should occur in such close succession – In some ways it negates the Ethiopians request, as it appears that the BM is doing something to respond to it, whereas if they had made their request a few days later, it could have instead ridden on the back of the publicity surrounding the loan of the Tabots, to highlight how many other items still remained in the museum.
Is this a sign of a softening in approach by the British Museum towards the repatriation of cultural treasures?
The Art Newspaper
Holy tabots to be transferred from British Museum to Ethiopian church
The works will probably never return to the museum
LONDON. The British Museum has agreed to transfer its Ethiopian tabots (or holy tablets) to a church in London. Later this year the Ethiopians are expected to take over a redundant Anglican church, and a crypt or secure room will then be set aside to house the symbolically-charged wooden objects, which represent the Ark of the Covenant. The museum has agreed to a five-year extendible loan and the tabots may well never again return to the museum. The arrangement has the blessing of the Patriarch, Abba Paulos.
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