Netherlands agrees to return looted Sri Lankan treasures, including the 275-year-old cannon

Netherlands agrees to return looted Sri Lankan treasures, including the 275-year-old cannon

Six colonial-era artefacts, including a more than 275-year-old cannon that is adorned with gold, silver, bronze, and rubies, were officially returned to Sri Lanka by the Netherlands on Monday, August 28. During a ceremony at the cultural ministry in Colombo, Gunay Uslu, the deputy minister of culture, education, and science for the Netherlands, signed documents transferring ownership of the antiques to Sri Lanka.

Following that, the National Museum of Sri Lanka gave the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam permission to keep the artefacts there until they are sent to Colombo. The transfer will happen in December of this year.

The transfer will feature Lewke’s Cannon, which is thought to have been given to the king of Kandy by the Sri Lankan aristocracy Lewke Disava sometime between 1745 and 1746. It has been on display ever since Dutch troops captured it in 1765 and took it to the Netherlands.

Other objects from the time the Dutch ruled Sri Lanka from 1658 to 1796 include two gold and silver swords, two firearms, and a knife. The decision to return these items was made following suggestions from a government-appointed panel looking into unauthorised Dutch colonial purchases. It was established in response to Indonesia’s request for the return of some works of art and collections of natural history. Sri Lanka then asked for the return of its stolen treasures.

The Netherlands in July this year had announced that it would return 478 colonial artefacts looted from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

“This is a historic moment. It’s a moment to look to the future. We’re not only returning objects, we’re also embarking on a period of closer cooperation with Indonesia and Sri Lanka in areas like collection research, presentation, and exchanges between museums,” Gunay Uslu, the Netherlands’ secretary of state for culture and media had said in a statement.

The Portuguese ruled over Sri Lanka from the year 1505 to 1658, followed by the Dutch, and finally the British before independence in 1948.

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