Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

INDIA AND THE DIASPORA => Indian Perspectives => Topic started by: Makini on August 09, 2011, 08:47:12 PM

Title: European, American Museums: Fortified Havens For Plunder From India
Post by: Makini on August 09, 2011, 08:47:12 PM
European, American Museums: Fortified Havens For Plunder From India
By Radha Rajan

SHOULD the people of India, Greece, Egypt and Africa, and Native American peoples succeed in getting American and European museums and libraries to return all objects which constitute the tangible roots of ancient civilisations, and thousands of years of history pre-dating the cults of Jesus and Mohammed, then the Louvre, British Museum, Smithsonian, Vatican and the Kunsthistoriches Museum to mention just five, would be emptied of all their prized possessions.

European and American museums and libraries are no more than fortified thieves’ dens and state-sponsored and supported safe havens for Abrahamic plunder; they house the spoils of Christian war and genocide against African peoples, against the nations of now extinct and almost extinct Native American peoples, colonial loot from Asia, and from archaeological and anthropological pseudo-science expeditions, which European marauders undertook across continents.

To the list of permanent exhibits and possessions officially declared by these museums and libraries must be added—objects which are never exhibited for public viewing, objects which are now in private collections of the rich and infamous, and objects which even people in the countries of their origin may not know about in some private collection and in the dark interiors of museums and libraries

The only history to be spared the depredations of Christian vandals, which they could not uproot and cart away to Europe and America, and those which successive jihadi hordes could not destroy and reduce to rubble are the petroglyphs and pictograms in the caves of India.

India should demand that all such objects including the priceless Saraswati-Indus seals, temple pediments and colonnades and every murti of our gods and goddesses once worshipped in our temples and homes be returned to India where they belong.

In the British Museum alone the writer saw objects inscribed with Saraswati-Indus script. There are currently around 4200 such inscribed objects of which over 2500 are seals and sealings. According to Dr Subhash Kak, most of the sites of what is called the Indus civilisation are in the Saraswati valleys and some of the biggest sites in vivisected India are yet to be excavated.

Several among the 4200 objects are scattered across major museums of the world and libraries. According to Dr Kak besides the 14 in the British Museum, there is one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and one in the Berkeley Museum, University of California.

The Saraswati-Indus script has not been deciphered conclusively and all work including that of some Hindu scholars and amateurs continues to remain at best in the domain of conjecture. All objects bearing the Saraswati-Indus script, currently located in foreign museums and libraries must therefore come back to India to enable future scholars to access them at one place without having to travel around the world; what belongs to the Indian people must be returned to India.

Besides the 14 objects with the Saraswati-Indus script, the writer saw in the collection of colonial loot, a portion of the Mathura Lion Capital, the base of an exquisitely carved temple column from Dwarka, breathtakingly beautiful murtis from every corner of our country—of Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Parvati, Rukmani, Vaishnavi, Kartikeya and Narthana (Dancing) Ganesha.

The defilement of temples and sacred places was not confined to India. A magnificent wall torn down from the Memorial Temple of Rameses II in Abydos, Egypt, built of limestone and sandstone around 1250 BC, bearing precious hieroglyphs giving a detailed list of names of the kings and gods of Egypt in exquisitely carved cartouches also stands in the British Museum.

The memorial temple to Rameses II also had seven shrines dedicated to seven gods including Osiris, God of Death and the netherworld. Auguste Mariette was to Abydos what Lord Elgin was to the Acropolis. If Elgin vandalised the sacred Acropolis and brought home the plunder for the British Museum, Mariette vandalised the sacred city of Abydos and brought home the loot for the Egyptian Museum in the Louvre.

Temples which were plundered and destroyed by pre-Christian and pre-Islam kings and soldiers were always re-built and the gods were re-installed and worshipped again. Oftentimes some future king from the victor country would re-build the temple which had been destroyed earlier by his predecessor; but that which was destroyed by Christian crusaders, colonisers and archaeologists and Muslim jihadi armies remain to this day only as ruins.

White Christian countries built museums as truimphant monuments of this destruction and vandalism. Pre-Christian and pre-Islam kings destroyed temples as an asuric act of victory but even they did not vandalise graves and tombs. Vandalising tombs and pyramids, digging up graves and mutilating the bodies of the dead is an Abrahamic trait and Native Americans are still fighting to get back the mortal remains of their forefathers displayed in American museums so that they can be respectfully laid back to rest.

If India, Greece and Egypt bore the brunt of western archaeologists, Native Americans suffered anthropologists.

While their historical precedent is uncertain, anthropologists can be readily identified on the Reservations. Go into any crowd of people. Pick out a tall gaunt white man wearing Bermuda shorts, a World war II Army Air Force flying jacket, an Australian bush hat, tennis shoes, and packing a large knapsack incorrectly strapped on his back. He will invariably have a thin wife with stringy hair, an IQ of 191, and a vocabulary in which even the prepositions have eleven syllables. This creature is an anthropologist. (Vine Deloria, JR., Custer Died For Your Sins, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1988, page 79)

While native American writer Vine Deloria’s biting satire may have reduced the anthropologist and Christian missionary to caricatures, the destruction wreaked on ancient civilisations and peoples is real; very real. The extent of destruction, vandalism, brazen appropriation of the wealth of other nations which these museums and libraries continue to hold on to and exhibit with scant regard for morality and justice, and the sensibilities of the nations to which this wealth belongs, has to be seen to be really understood.

A museum, as conceived by what goes in the name of western civilisation is primarily a victory monument displaying the remains of dead and extinct or once conquered and elslaved civilisations; and they are dead because of the rise and expansion of the Abrahamic religions. One such museum was the Baghdad museum which housed the remains of the Mesopotamian civilisation. In an act of Abrahamic atavism, the Baghdad museum was made a precision target during the American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

American tanks fired at the Baghdad museum leaving a gaping hole on the forehead; the attack on Baghdad museum facilitated the pre-planned vandalism and plunder of the magnificent wealth of the Mesopotamian civilisation. The world will never know how much was destroyed, how much was looted and where these precious objects are now.

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Title: Re: European, American Museums: Fortified Havens For Plunder From India
Post by: Makini on August 09, 2011, 10:11:08 PM
I find this discussion of repatriation of cultural heritage very important, particularly important in the overall discussion of repatriation. I think its good that this author from the article above, Radha Rajan spoke of Indian artefacts, but also presented the broader picture of museum artefacts in a number of different parts of the world and cases such as Baghdad.

I also always frown when people say, why give back artefacts because the home countries 'don't know' how to take care of them 'properly' or wont preserve them for one simple reason...

The Louvre Museum in Paris charges 10 euro entrance fee and receives approximately 80 million visitors per year. It also has a special price for temporary and visiting exhibitions that have an additional or separate charge. The British Natural History Museum is free, it does however charge for visiting or temporary exhibitions and recieves 5 million visitors per year. In America, the Smithsonian Institute, a collection of 16 or so museums is also free and recieves 28 million visitors per year. These are just three major museums, but there are a plethora of museums that have artefacts from 'developing' countries and recieve millions of visitors every year.

Indeed, it should be factored in that they are run by staff who are specially trained and these valuable pieces do need protection from the unscruplous out there. As such they also get support from the government and from donations from wealthy persons, corporate sector etc. For example (

Although two of the museums I mentioned are free, visitors do still consistute revenues. When people attend these places they buy merchandise e.g. in the Bristish Museum: (
If visitors are there an entire day they buy food and drinks and do the whole outing thing while getting 'the experience'. They also buy printed and moulded replicas and souvenirs of what? the art of Africans, Indians, Native Americans...why doesnt some of that profit go back to the artists...well most of major cases they died thousands and hundreds of years ago, but that profit (what people call intellectual property these days) should go back to their countries, 100% back as such artefacts are from past periods. There would be more profits if exhibitions were smaller and housed in their less expensive homes countries than places like Paris.

So when people say that countries where artefacts from cities, villages, temples, palaces, burial sites, religious grounds, geographical regions and all manner of indigenious cultural periods should stay in some UV protected, glass cased, Ph/air/humidity regulated environment, I  say, give back that culture, give back that identity, dignity... People can figure it out when the revenue from such tourism from taxi drivers and all is in their hands and then you can still give support and donations if you really feel that it is inherently important that these things should be preserved. They can have their young anthropologists, and scientists develop more richly in it, more equally in it and become the experts as knowlegdeable as Europeans due to easier access to material stored in warehouses which are more easily accessible for their research (which invariably becomes less European biased). I think people from 'developing' countries will be more appreciative than being aware that these artefacts exist on some other continent where mainly Europeans and the very wealthy from the 'developing' world get the chance to view them.

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