Netherlands returns historical objects to Indonesia


Jakarta, – The Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology stated that the Dutch government officially returned various historical objects to the Indonesian government in Leiden on Monday.

“In addition to the handover of historic collections from the Netherlands, the two countries also signed several documents,” said I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, head of the Indonesian collections repatriation team, in a statement received in Jakarta on Monday.

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One of the documents signed was the “Technical Arrangement and Acknowledgement of the Transfer of Rights from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Indonesia.”

According to Puja, the repatriation of historical collections to Indonesia was made possible thanks to the cooperation and hard work of the two repatriation committees and the support of the two governments.

The repatriation team, together with the committee for the repatriation of Dutch colonial objects led by Lilian Gonçalvez-Ho Kang You, has maintained positive and productive communication to encourage the return of historical objects from the Netherlands to Indonesia.

“We started this repatriation effort two years ago. Objects of cultural heritage from the Netherlands will soon be handed back to Indonesia,” Puja said.

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He explained that after going through research conducted by experts, four artifact collections comprising 132 collections of Balinese Pita Maha art objects, the Singasari statue, Lombok royal heirlooms, and the Puputan Klungkung dagger will be returned to Indonesia.

Puja said the 132 Balinese art objects include paintings, wood carvings, silver objects, and textiles made by artists from the Pita Maha art group, which was founded on January 29, 1936, by Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Walter Spies, and Rudolf Bone.

Four Singasari statues at the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden are masterpieces from the 13th century AD and originated from Singosari Temple, which was built following the death of King Kertanagara.

The four statues depict gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology: Durga, Mahakala, Nandishvara, and Ganesha.

In addition, hundreds of objects originating from the Lombok kingdom would also be returned along with a dagger from the Klungkung Kingdom, Bali.

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The object from Puri Cakranegara, Lombok, was previously stored in the Tropenmuseum, while the Klungkung dagger was part of the collection of the Volkenkunde Museum, Leiden.

Hilmar Farid, the ministry’s Director-General of Culture, said that the transfer of the historical objects is not just a transfer but also has historical value.

“This reveals historical knowledge and the origins of historical art objects that have not been known to the public,” Farid remarked.

He noted that the cooperation between the two countries in the field of repatriation would also help develop cooperation programs for museums and research involving experts from both countries.

“This will also develop a scholarship program for scholars conducting research in the field of repatriation of colonial objects,” he added.

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