February 4, 2008

Indonesia demands return of historic stone from Scotland

Posted at 2:10 pm in Similar cases

Indonesia appears to have taken advantage of the current wave of interest in restitution issues in Scotland stemming from the Lewis Chessmen to demand the return of a four tonne inscribed stone. It remains to be seen whether Scotland feel the issues are so important once they are sitting on the opposite side of the argument.

The Scotsman

Published Date: 04 February 2008
Source: The Scotsman
Location: Scotland
Indonesia demands historic stone back
By Tristan Stewart-Robertson

AN ANCIENT Indonesian carving given to a British diplomat almost 200 years ago as a gift has become the latest relic involved in intricate discussions about its repatriation.
Government ministers in Jakarta have confirmed they are negotiating for the return of the four-tonne Minto Stone, on which is carved in ancient script of the history of the island of Java.

It has been part of the Minto family estate near Hawick, Roxburghshire, since 1812, after it was given to the 1st Earl of Minto by explorer Stamford Raffles, and is now overseen by the family’s Minto Trust.

Repatriation has increasingly become a major issue in Scotland after ministers called for the return of the Lewis Chessmen from the British Museum.

Nine Maori heads held by Marischal Museum at the University of Aberdeen were returned to New Zealand last year. And last month, the National Museum of Scotland announced it would return an aboriginal skull to Tasmania.

There is no legal requirement for the repatriation of items that are not human remains. In Indonesia last week, officials said the stone – known as the Sanggurah Stone or Batu Minto – was an important historical artefact and belonged in the capital’s national museum.

And last night, the 7th Earl of Minto, Timothy George Lariston Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, confirmed discussions were continuing with the Indonesian government.

But the father of four, 55, who heads stationery firm Paperchase, denied the issue had been dragging on for a long time. He confirmed: “We have received an approach from a representative of the Indonesian government and we are prepared to continue discussions.” The Minto Stone was carved in AD982. It was taken from its site near the town of Malang in East Java by Stamford Raffles after he became governor of Java in 1811. He gained the post thanks to the patronage of Gilbert Elliot, the 1st Earl of Minto, and gave him the stone in thanks.

But the monolith is considered a valuable record of the Javanese kingdom of Mataram, which grew to power between the 7th and 10th centuries.

Last week, Hadi Untoro Drajat, of the Indonesian culture and tourism ministry, said: “We are in negotiations to return the Sanggurah Stone back to Indonesia. It is an important historical artefact. Upon its return, it will be placed in the national museum in Jakarta.

“The Indonesian government has been attempting to secure the return of the artefact since 2004, but government-to-government negotiations have proven difficult because the relic is currently in the custodianship of Minto trustees.”

Hashim Djojohadikusumo, an art dealer who was caught with five antique statues in his home last November but never charged, said he was negotiating the return of the Minto Stone. He said: “The Indonesian government has a policy of not paying for the return of ancient artefacts, but we are ready to cover the transfer costs and compensation to the Minto Trust. So far, it hasn’t determined the amount. The Minto Trust are willing to discuss it in a family meeting.”

And he added: “The Minto Stone is a heritage that has been handed down for generations.”

Theft of ancient artefacts is said to be rife in Indonesia, home to ruins of Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms that flourished from the seventh century onward.

Also, at one point, there was a Minto family museum of historic items held in Fatlips Castle on Minto Crags, near Jedburgh in the Borders. But they were all removed after the site was plagued by continuing vandalism.

The full article contains 588 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 03 February 2008 11:25 PM

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1 Comment »

  1. Ty Minto said,

    06.01.08 at 6:23 am

    To whom may concern.

    Hello my Name is Ty Minto, I was told by my grandmother that my last name Minto originally came from Scotland and that there was a castle to our name. So I did some research on the internet and I stumbled along this website. I read what was posted and looked into the controversy of the Minto Stone that was once in the Fatlips Castle, and I felt that it would be necessary to state my opinion about this matter. The fact that the stone was taken and placed in Scotland as a gift to Gilbert Elliot the 1st Earl of Minto, is history in itself. The story of how it got there in the first place is quit interesting, the ones in position of it now obviously have been doing a good job of taking care of it and should be rewarded with the right to keep what has been in their possession for some time now.
    I know that technically I may not be in any relation, although my name originates from Scotland, I would much appreciate it if anyone could inform as to what happens with the Minto Stone controversy .
    Lastly hears a few things about me, I live in the USA and in the state of California. I am 23 years old and going to a university. If there is anyone who would like to email me back and give me some history on the Minto Crags or the Fatlips Castle and the origin or the importance of the Minto name, I would much appreciate it.

    My email address is: tyminto@yahoo.com.

    Thank you
    Ty M. Minto

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