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77 Cambodian Pieces of Jewellery Collection Return Home

Seventy-Seven (77) Cambodian pieces of jewellery collection have returned home from the United Kingdom, according to a press release of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts issued this afternoon.

The handover of the jewellery collection took place in the UK recently in the presence of a Cambodian delegation led by H.E. Hun Many, Chairman of the National Assembly's 7th Commission on Education, Youth, Sports, Cults and Religious Affairs, Culture and Tourism, Cambodian Ambassador to UK, members of the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Southeast Asia Department, the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metroplitan Police and Art Council England.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) reached an accord with the family of the late Douglas Latchford in September 2020 wherein all Cambodian artefacts in the possession of the Latchford family will be returned to Cambodia.

The collection, which arrived in Cambodia on Feb. 17, 2023, include gold and other precious metal pieces from the Pre-Angkorian and Angkorian period such as crowns, necklaces, bracelets, belts, earrings and amulets, a number of which have been featured in the book Khmer Gold: Gifts of the Gods, co-authored by Mrs. Emma C. Bunker and Mr. Douglas A.J. Latchford (2008). Many of the objects have never been seen by the public before.

“The RGC expresses its appreciation to the Government of the UK for its goodwill and cooperation in facilitating the return of these artefacts to the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, which demonstrates the successful strategy of the RGC in close cooperation with other countries around the world,” the press release underlined.

H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, commented on "the importance of peace and political stability through the Win-Win policy and the wise leadership of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen that has given the opportunity for Cambodia to return the souls of Khmer ancestors and invaluable treasures which departed from their homeland for many years during the decades of war".

H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona further noted that "the repatriation of these national treasures open a new era of understanding and scholarship about the Angkorian empire and its significance to the world.

The minister encouraged private individuals, museums as well as other institutions around the world that are in possession of Cambodian artefacts to cooperate with the RGC through the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts or through Cambodian Embassies to return Cambodian cultural heritage objects. “We considered such returns as a noble act, which not only demonstrates important contribution to a nation's culture, but also contributes to the reconciliation and healing of Cambodians who went through decades of civil war and suffered tremendously from the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge genocide,” she said.

She also expressed her appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the NA's 7th commission led by H.E. Hun Many together with Bredley J. Golden and Steven Heimberg, legal advisers on restitution issues, who have immensely supported the ministry on the return of these priceless objects of Cambodian heritage.

H.E. Hun Many commented “it is an honour to lead the delegation to return these priceless national treasures to our home country”. He also thanked the RGC, especially the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts under the leadership of H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, and relevant partners who have assisted and worked together in achieving these brilliant results.

The minister also expressed her appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the Commission 7 of the National Assembly led by H.E. Hun Many, the team of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, together with Bradley J. Gordon and Steven Heimberge, legal advisers on restitution issues, who have immensely supported the Ministry on the return of these priceless objects of Cambodian heritage. The ministry will continue to search for and bring home its national treasures back to Cambodia for the benefit of the Cambodian people and the world.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press