Looted Ancient Angkor Jewellery Returned to Cambodia
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.
Officials celebrated the homecoming with an elaborate parade from Phnom Penh International Airport to the National Museum.
The set – which includes a crown, necklaces and earrings – is believed to have once adorned a statue at Angkor Wat, where the items were looted during the Khmer Rouge regime, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.
After the pieces turned up in Britain, the Cambodian government lobbied for their return and with the help of specialists spent more than a year inspecting the items to make sure they were genuine.
Officials proudly welcomed the jewellery back to the country on Saturday as the items were accompanied from the airport by hundreds of people and flanked by security guards.
“This is a successful mission of all Cambodians, including diplomats and people who love the arts and antiques. Everyone is happy,” said Chuch Phoeun, Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, as quoted by The Hindu.
The Phnom Penh reported that the ministry invited the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia – a student group led by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son Hun Many – to make a joint announcement about the return “because we wanted youth to participate”.
Over the course of decades of French colonialism and later civil war, when there was scant oversight of cultural heritage, countless historical artefacts were stolen, many of which are now being returned.
London’s Jonathan Tucker Antonia Tozer Asian Art dealership agreed in April to return the jewellery, which will now be appraised by experts in Cambodia.
The pieces will soon be designated as national heritage items.