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The problems of disputed artefacts

The auctions of Chinese bronzes [1] & of Mahatma Gandhi’s spectacles [2] have both stirred up controversy, leading many commentators to highlight how many other similar unresolved cases there are.

My Sinchew [3]

They Are Auctioning Their Ancestors’ Shame
2009-03-04 12:35

When Chinese people are protesting against the auction of the two rabbit and rat bronze sculpture heads, the news of Mahatma Gandhi’s iconic spectacles, which he once said gave him “the vision to free India”, are to be sold at an auction in New York on 5 March, has caused public revulsion in India.

India, China, Egypt and Babylon are the world’s four great ancient civilizations. Sadly, in the human warfare history which is full of killings, a large number of relics from these ancient civilizations have become the victors’ bloody war trophies and are now losing abroad.

The world’s three major museums, the British Museum in the United Kingdom, Lovre Museum in France and Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States, have collected tens of thousands of relics seized or stolen from these ancient civilizations. They refused to return these relics to their countries of origin with a reason that: the relics’ sources are legitimate and they have become part of the museum and even the property of the host country; also, relics belong to the cultural and spiritual heritage of all mankind.

Look, the three so-called contemporary democratic model countries are openly rationalising the banditry of their ancestors with all sorts of beautiful excuses.

In his letter addresed to Captain Butler dated 1861, French poet Victor Hugo has sorrowfully criticised the banditry of Anglo-French allied forces at the Summer Palace. He said: “Before history, one of the two bandits will be called France; the other will be called England.”

Unfortunately, one hundred years later, French people have forgotten about Hugo’s lesson of “the crimes of those who lead are not the fault of those who are led”, and they do not show us the glory of humanity that “governments are sometimes bandits, peoples never” as Hugo said.

How said indeed! The two “bandits” described by Hugo who “left laughing hand-in-hand with their bags full of treasures”, are actually openly auctioning the human civilization and the shame of their ancestors! (By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily)