Friday, December 19, 2008

Korea Times: Koreans seeking “stolen” reliquary at MFA

The Korea Times reported Monday that a Seoul Metropolitan Council member and Buddhist monks plan to visit the U.S. in January to ask Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to return a reliquary “that was stolen during Japanese colonial rule of Korea.”

Asked about the matter and the accuracy of the article’s allegations, MFA spokeswoman Kelly Gifford writes, “We have not been contacted by this group or anyone about Korean objects in the collection. Not sure where this is coming from.”

The article says the stupa, believed to have contained relics of the Buddha and eminent monks, “is assumed to have been made during the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392) and kept at Hoiam Temple until it was seized by Japanese colonial authorities in 1939. The Boston Museum has allegedly bought the piece from Japan.” A saria reliquary resembling the article's description is in the MFA’s collection and described as acquired “by exchange, June 8, 1939.”

"We will visit Boston to see the item first and are considering filing a suit with a local court for its return," Council member Boo Doo-wan told the English-language daily newspaper based in Seoul. "We are also planning to visit the United Nations headquarters to talk to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and meet with South and North Korean delegates to ask for their support."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cultural properties market all too frequently operates in a legal gray zone, the MFA in particular has acquired South Italian and Mayan artifacts that carry little if any documentation and are beyond a doubt the product of illicit looting. Nearly every museum that has persisted in acquiring antiquities during the twentieth century, whether these objects be of European, Asian, African, or Latin American origin, owns looted material.

December 19, 2008 at 7:54 PM  

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