Jakarta (ANTARA) - During the Dutch colonial period, hundreds of cultural artifacts from Indonesia were looted by the Netherlands.

On July 6, 2023, the Netherlands officially announced that it would return 472 cultural artifacts to Indonesia at the request of the Indonesian government.

A ceremony for handing over the historical objects took place at the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, the Netherlands, on July 10, with Hilmar Farid, the director-general of culture at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology (Kemendikbudristek), representing Indonesia.

"We initiated the repatriation effort two years ago," said I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, the head of the Indonesian collection's repatriation team.

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

The long-awaited objects, which have been in the Netherlands for three centuries, comprise four collections, including a Puputan Klungkung Keris from the Kingdom of Klungkung, Bali, four statues from the Singasari Kingdom era, 132 art objects from the Pita Maha Bali collection, and 335 looted treasures from the 1894 Lombok Expedition, according to the ministry.

Among the 472 objects retrieved from the Netherlands, the four statues from the Singasari Kingdom era will soon be displayed at the Indonesia National Museum as part of the first stage of the artifact's return to Indonesia.

The Singasari statues, depicting gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology, namely Durga, Mahakala, Nandishvara, and Ganesha, are masterpieces from the 13th century AD.

Before arriving in Indonesia, the statues were kept at the Volkenkunde Museum, and replicas of the Durga and Ganesha statues were displayed in the Kertarajasa Room of the Indonesia National Museum, according to an official from the National Museum.

Ni Luh Putu Chandra Dewi, the head of the National Museum, explained that the four Singasari statues are still in storage, with maintenance work in progress.

Editor: Anton Santoso
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