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Sri Lanka gets back six stolen artefacts from Netherlands

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Six Sri Lankan artefacts taken by the Dutch over 200 years ago during the colonial era were repatriated to the island nation on Wednesday (29).

The Netherlands, which colonised Sri Lanka from 1658-1796, returned the artefacts stolen in 1756.

A Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Frankfurt arrived on Wednesday with the six artefacts, officials said.

“During a high-level state visit in August, Dutch State Secretary Hon. Gunay Uslu formally signed an ownership transfer of six Sri Lankan artefacts that were stolen by the Dutch,” a Netherlands embassy press release said.

A golden and a silver kasthãné or sabre, a golden knife, two maha thuwakku or wall guns and Lewke Disave’s cannon-all belonging to the Kandyan kingdom, now found in the Rijksmuseum collection were confirmed to be war booty, obtained by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) during the siege of the palace of Kandy in 1765 – image credit: museum.gov.lk website

“Now, after more than 200 years abroad, six Sri Lankan artefacts will be physically returned to Sri Lanka during a two-day event at the Colombo National Museum on December 5 and 6.”

The artefacts include a cannon inlaid with gold, silver, and bronze, known as “Lewke’s cannon,” according to the NewsFirst.lk news portal.

The Dutch Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation, Dewi van de Weerd, will lead a mission overseeing the handover on behalf of the Netherlands.

With the restitution, the Netherlands aims to strengthen the bilateral ties with Sri Lanka while also coming to terms with its colonial past, the press release said.

As a part of this, the ambassador hopes to discuss possibilities for further strengthening the cultural cooperation between the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, the embassy said.

(PTI)

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