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PHOTOS: UK to ‘loan’ back looted Asante “Crown Jewels” to Ghana after 150 years – BBC

UK to 'loan' back Asante Crown Jewels to Ghana after 150 years - BBC
A ceremonial cap worn by courtiers at coronations is among the items that will be loaned back to Ghana

The is repatriating 32 items, including a gold peace pipe, to Ghana, 150 years after they were looted from the court of the Asante king.

The artefacts, referred to as Ghana's “crown jewels,” are part of a three-year loan agreement between Ghana's , Otumfo Osei Tutu II, and the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and the British Museum.

The return marks an effort to address historical injustices and foster cultural cooperation.

Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, emphasized the importance of sharing items acquired through war and looting more fairly. However, he clarified that the cultural partnership is not a form of restitution by the back door and doesn't imply a return of permanent ownership to Ghana.

The items, taken during 19th-century conflicts between the British and the Asante, include a sword of state and gold badges worn by officials. They will be displayed at the Manhyia Palace Museum in , celebrating the Asantehene's silver jubilee.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim, the special adviser to Ghana's culture minister, sees the loan as a starting point for healing and commemoration, emphasizing the spiritual importance of the artefacts to the nation.

Loan, not permanent return

The three-year loan agreements, extendable for another three years, aim to navigate UK legal restrictions that prohibit permanent return. The items will be showcased at the Manhyia Palace Museum to mark the Asantehene's silver jubilee.

Angus Patterson, senior curator at the V&A, acknowledged the political nature of the 19th-century act, stating that it was about removing symbols of authority. The British Museum is also participating in the repatriation, loaning 15 items, some from conflicts in 1895-96, including a sword of state.

Ghana's chief negotiator, Ivor Agyeman-Duah, affirmed the commitment to stick to agreements and not go against them, addressing concerns about the potential loss of prized museum items. While calls for permanent restitution persist, these loans offer a diplomatic and practical approach to address historical grievances and build future relationships.

The return of these artefacts adds to the broader global discourse on repatriating cultural heritage looted during colonial periods, signalling a step toward reconciliation and cooperation.

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