The city of Glasgow, Scotland, announced today that it will return seven Indian artefacts that were looted during the colonial period, stressing that this is the first time a British museum has made such a move.
Six of the items were stolen from northern India in the 1800s, and a seventh was bought illegally after being stolen by its original owners.
These seven antiquities were looted from sacred sites, such as temples, and donated to the Scottish city’s museum collections.
Glasgow’s promises to return the items are part of a process of assessing the origins of the works housed in Western museums in the wake of anti-racism movements.
Talks are under way with Indian diplomats and, last week, a Nigerian delegation was received to discuss the repatriation of 19 brass workers from Benin.
A few months ago, two British universities returned to Nigeria two bronze sculptures of Benin, which were looted in the 19th century by British settlers.
In all, Glasgow is preparing to return to the descendants of the project owners 51 items from India, Nigeria and the Cheyenne and Oglala River tribes in the US state of South Dakota.
Among the 25 cultural objects to be returned to the Lakota tribe, some are sacred. Others were removed from the site of the Wooden Ni (Wounded Knee) massacre where in December 1890, at least 150 Amerindians preparing to surrender their weapons were killed by the US Army.
“By correcting the mistakes of the past, we think these returns will help strengthen existing relationships with these offspring communities,” said Duncan Dornan, director of museums and collections at Glasgow Life.