Cambodia’s looted treasures returned home from Britain

Peace and political stability had given an opportunity for Cambodia to reclaim the 77 pieces of ancient jewelry, which had been looted from the kingdom during war, said Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts.

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This undated photo shows an ancient crown returned to Cambodia from Britain. (Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts/Handout via Xinhua)

Seventy-seven pieces of lost Cambodian ancient jewelry, handed over by the family of the late antique collector Douglas Latchford, had been returned to Cambodia from Britain, said a press statement from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on Monday.

Arriving in Cambodia last Friday, gold and other precious metal pieces, made during the pre-Angkorian and Angkorian periods, included crowns, necklaces, bracelets, belts, earrings and amulets, the statement said.

A number of them had been featured in the book Khmer Gold: Gifts of the Gods, co-authored by Emma C. Bunker and Douglas A.J. Latchford (2008), the statement said, adding that many of the objects had never been seen by the public before.

The statement said this returned collection was in addition to other stone and bronze artifacts already returned from Britain to Cambodia in September of 2021.

Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona said peace and political stability had given an opportunity for Cambodia to reclaim those invaluable treasures which had been looted from the kingdom during war decades ago.

“The repatriation of these national treasures opens a new era of understanding and scholarship about the Angkorian empire and its significance to the world,” she said.

Sackona also called on private individuals, museums and other institutions around the world that are in possession of Cambodian artifacts to return them to the Southeast Asian country.

“We consider such returns as a noble act, which not only demonstrates important contributions to a nation’s culture, but also contributes to the reconciliation and healing of Cambodians who went through decades of civil war,” she said.

On Sept. 18, 2020, the family of Latchford agreed to give his entire extraordinary collection of Cambodian antiquities back to Cambodia after three years of negotiations, according to the ministry.

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 21 (Xinhua)

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