The city of Glasgow has just announced that it will return seven antiquities looted around 1800 from sacred sites in northern India.
The city of Glasgow, Scotland, announced on Wednesday it would return seven Indian artefacts looted during the colonial period, saying it was a first for a British museum.
Six of the items were stolen from northern India in the 1800s, 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 of assessing the provenance of objects kept in Western museums, in the wake of movements against racism. Discussions are underway with Indian diplomats and, last week, a Nigerian delegation was received 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 in the 19th century by British colonists.
In total, Glasgow is set to return 51 objects from India, Nigeria and the Cheyenne River and Oglala Sioux tribes 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 taken from the site of the Wounded Knee massacre where, in December 1890, at least 150 Native Americans about to surrender their weapons were killed by the United States military.
“By righting the wrongs of the past, we believe these restitutions will help strengthen existing relationships with these descendant communities,” said Duncan Dornan, Glasgow Life’s Head of Museums and Collections.