VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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  • 02June
    2015

    Chinese tomb raiders caught

    On 26 May, Chinese authorities arrested 175 people over the theft and trafficking of more than 1,000 artefacts worth an estimated $80m (500m RMB), in what the government is calling the largest police raid in the country’s history.

    Those arrested include four archaeologists and one “master raider”, identified only by his last name Yao, who used feng shui to find the best places to dig for objects.

    The Chinese Cultural Relics Protection Bureau began investigating the illegal operation in June last year when they found signs of digging near Neolithic ruins in Liaoning province. According to the New York Times, police arrested three people who led them to the larger network. 

    More info : People's Daily Online
  • 22May
    2015

    Ewha Womans Univ. Museum

    Ewha Womans University Museum has recently joined the VCM as a partner, which makes the VCM consist of 132 museums from around the world.

    Through the VCM, Ewha Womans University Museum opens a total of 30 masterpieces’ digital information to the public, which includes some of the finest cultural heritage in Korea. The museum opened in 1935 as part of an effort to preserve Korean cultural heritage. It has now grown into holding an extensive collection of Korean cultural heritage items dating from prehistoric times from diverse fields including archaeology, history, folk art, and modern and contemporary art. These academically and artistically invaluable works are all a part of the 250,000 artifacts, artworks, and materials housed in the museum. 

    More info : VCM: Ewha Womans University Museum
  • 19May
    2015

    Looted Statue Returned
    Nearly five decades after a centuries-old statue of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman was looted from a temple in Cambodia, the Cleveland Museum of Art officially handed it over to the government on May 12th, during a ceremony at the Council of Ministers building.
     
    Once part of a depiction of an epic battle between two other monkey deities, the statue was carved in the 10th century and housed at Preah Vihear province’s Prasat Chen temple, which was built as part of the one-time Khmer Empire capital of Koh Ker. 
     
    More info : The Cambodia Daily
  • 07May
    2015

    International Symposium

    The National Museum of Korea(NMK) cordially invites you to the international symposium on May 15th, 2015.

    It is our greatest pleasure to announce that this year the National Museum of Korea will have its 10th anniversary of reconstruction and opening to the public at Yongsan, Seoul, in 2005. Along with the visual reconstruction, the NMK experienced a great change within itself in terms of its concepts and ideas, which successfully led to a significant change in how people understand museums.

    In order to celebrate the rebirth of our museum, the NMK and the Korean National Committee of ICOM(ICOM Korea) are holding an international symposium under the title “The Future of Museums and Participation”, on May 15th. The symposium, which will be organized as an opening conference of the Korean Museum Association’s 9th General Assembly from May 15th to 17th, will also emphasize the sharing of ideas on the possible paths for the museums around the world. World-renowned speakers will join the symposium to share their ideas with the audience, and many who are interested in the convergence of culture and IT, or the museum construction, as well as the future of museums will find this opportunity very amusing to attend.

    More info : National Museum of Korea
  • 20April
    2015

    Redrawing the Great Wall
    Archaeologists in China recently discovered ruins on the border of the Gansu province and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the far north that they say is a stretch of the Great Wall. For years, experts believed the wall passed through this area, but this is the first physical evidence to back up that theory. 
     
    The ruins consist of nine sections that cover more than six miles in length. Unlike the well-kept parts of the wall that are popular with tourists, known as the Badaling section and located just outside of Beijing, these ruins were made with local stone and soil and have been weathered down over the centuries to as low as three feet. 
    More info : The Art Newspaper
  • 13April
    2015

    Propaganda Battle in Iraq

    Fears of further threats against Iraqi archaeological sites are increasing, following the attack by Islamic State (IS) on Hatra. A propaganda film released on 4 April shows extremists using sledgehammers, pickaxes and automatic gunfire to destroy stone sculptures. Hatra was a fortified Parthian city, dating mainly from the first century BC to the second century AD. Lying 110 kilometres south-west of Mosel, it was inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1985.

    Although some commentators claim that the destroyed sculptures were plaster replicas, most specialists believe that they were authentic antiquities. The destruction took place in a large building known as the Great Iwans, part of the central temple complex. Three large human-like faces high up on the walls were knocked down with sledgehammers, falling to the ground and breaking into fragments. A trio of faces in relief on a wall was attacked with machine gun fire (the reliefs were badly damaged, although not destroyed). Two sculptures of worshippers were broken up with pickaxes (they had been reconstructed in the late 20th century, with some plaster additions). Figures of eagles were attacked with pickaxes and machine guns.

    Despite the breaking up of sculptures, there is no evidence of wholesale “destruction” of the site, as the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Baghdad had claimed on 7 March (and it is unclear whether the vandalism was filmed on that date). Although further damage may have taken place at Hatra which is unrecorded in the film, the confirmed damage is not as bad as it might have been (although it is still highly regrettable). Most of the important sculptures excavated at Hatra had been sent to the National Museum in Baghdad for safekeeping before the fall of Saddam Hussein.

    More info : The Art Newspaper
  • 08April
    2015

    Returning Indian Artifacts
    Several American museums have begun returning possibly stolen artifacts to India in response to a major federal investigation into the activities of Subhash Kapoor, a dealer identified by authorities as having once run the largest antiquities smuggling operation on American soil.
     
    Last week, museums in Hawaii and Massachusetts handed federal officials a total of eight items bought from Mr. Kapoor’s defunct business, Art of the Past, which was on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
     
    In October, the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio returned a $245,000 statue that was bought from Mr. Kapoor in 2006. The museum’s director, Brian Kennedy, said the institution was in talks with federal investigators about giving up another 63 objects.
     
    “He certainly conned a lot of people,” Mr. Kennedy said of Mr. Kapoor, who is awaiting trial in India on charges of trafficking in $100 million worth of stolen artifacts. Mr. Kapoor, 65, has pleaded not guilty.
     
    Another 15 American museums have been identified as holding items obtained from Mr. Kapoor, but many said in the interviews this week that they had researched their Kapoor holdings and were satisfied that their items were not stolen or that they wanted to see proof of illegality before returning the 500 or so objects in question. Among those museums are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.
    More info : The New York Times
  • 06April
    2015

    Syrian Cultural Heritage Hidden

    It’s rare to hear any positive news associated with cultural heritage and Syria these days, but Maamoun Abdulkarim, director of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria, recently told the AFP that 99% of objects in the country’s 34 museums have been secretly hidden away to save them from looting and destruction. That’s about 300,000 artifacts and thousands of manuscripts — 80,000 items in Damascus alone.

    More info : Hyperallergic
  • 31March
    2015

    Iraq Artifacts Returned
    More than 60 cultural artifacts will be returned to after they were illegally smuggled into the United States, a statement by the U.S. State Department said.
     
    The State Department said the repatriation is part of an increasing cooperation with Iraq in matters of cultural heritage.
     
    A ceremony will be held on March 16th at the Iraqi consulate to repatriate the archeological items, the statement added.
     
    The step comes at a time when Iraq has suffered the destruction of many of its priceless artifacts on the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, according to the press release.
    More info : Alarabiya
  • 18March
    2015

    India: illegal trade

    Indian government agencies fear that over 2,913 antiques have been shipped overseas to dealers and auction houses worldwide. In a curious case, US-based art historian Dr Pratapaditya Pal informed the Indian Embassy in Brussels that he spotted a sculpture he believed was from the Sas Bahu Temple, Nagda in Rajasthan. When ASI officials visited Brussels in January last year to check, they had to return empty-handed since the Belgians were not very forthcoming. ASI again wrote to Pal in May last year to “intimate about the present location of the object to initiate retrieval of the same.” Meanwhile, the statue is still waiting.
    Similarly, a Dengapura Durga, a piece of sculpture stolen from the Kashmir valley in early 1990, was located in a museum in Germany. “The claim for its retrieval has been presented to the Minister of Science, Research and the Arts of the State Government of Baden-wiirttemberg, Germany by the Consulate General of India, Munich, Germany,” Culture minister Mahesh Sharma told Parliament last Wednesday. ‘Durga’ was also sold by Kapoor to be sold to the Lidden Museum.  Another artefact from Kapoor’s haul is the Chola bronze statue, which is now in possession of the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), Singapore. ASI has requested the Singapore High Commissioner to take up the matter with ACM. While the ASI does not put a value of an antiquity unless it is temporarily exported for an exhibition, going by the rates ranging between $2 lakh and $50 lakh  at which Kapoor sold three antiquities to Australian museums, the cost of the 11 missing antiquities can be pegged up to $ 55 million. “We are trying hard to get these stolen artefacts back,” said Additional Director General B R Mani.

    More info : New Indian Express, Mumbai, India
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