Woman’s dress from the 1860s. Photograph: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
in Ehiopia. The artefacts on display for the V&A Museum exhibition include a gold crown and royal wedding dress, looted from Ethiopia by the British 150 years ago.
The Ehiopian situation is just one of many examples of hopelessness woven around loaning rather than outright returnin of stolen treasures. In fact, Nigeian artefacts, particularly of Benin origin taken away from the old Bini Kingdom in 1897 during the infamous Punitive Expedition had been displayed at exhibitions outside Nigeria. Ridiculously, such exhibitions were described as "collaborative" between Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and the foreign holders of the looted treasures.
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Interestingly, the Ethiopian tragedy had similarity with that of the old Bini Kingdom. The Ehiopian artefacts were looted after British military invasion to secure the release of their people taken as hostages by the then Emperor Tewodros. After the expedition, the British victory led to the Emperor’s suicide.
For Ethiopia, its formal request eleven years ago to the U.K for return of hundreds of her artefacts looted after the 1868 capture of Maqdala, yielded no results.
In its preview of the V&A's exhibition, The Guardian of U.K reports that the museum's director, Tristram Hunt said: “The speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan … that would be the easiest way to manage it.”