For the first time, a British museum will bring works of art back to India

The City of Glasgow and Glasgow Life, which manages the city’s museums, will return artworks to India. AFP/Andy Buchanan

The city of Glasgow has just announced it will be returning seven antiquities looted from holy sites in northern India around 1800.

The city of Glasgow, Scotland, announced on Wednesday it would return seven Native American artifacts looted during the colonial era, saying it was a first for a British museum.

Six of the items were stolen from northern India in the 18th century, and a seventh was purchased illegally after being stolen from its original owners. These seven antiquities were looted from sacred places such as temples and donated to the collections of Scottish city museums.

Glasgow’s promises of restitution are part of a process to assess the provenance of objects held in Western museums in the wake of anti-racism movements. Talks are ongoing with Indian diplomats and a Nigerian delegation was received last week to discuss the repatriation of 19 bronzes from Benin. A few months ago, two British universities returned to Nigeria two bronzes from Benin, sculptures looted by British colonists in the 19th century.
In total, Glasgow will return 51 objects from India, Nigeria and the Sioux tribes of the Cheyenne River and Oglala in the US state of South Dakota to their owners’ descendants.
Among the 25 cultural objects to be returned to the Lakota tribe, some are sacred. Others were kidnapped from the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre, where at least 150 Native Americans were about to surrender their guns in December 1890 and were killed by the US military.
We believe that these restitutions will help strengthen existing relationships with these communities of descendants by righting past wrongs.said Duncan Dornan, director of museums and collections at Glasgow Life.

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