The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Art objects returned to Central and South America

Sixty objects from Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have been returned to their countries of origin, accompanied by the Swiss Confederation. They had been in private hands in Switzerland for decades.

A family in Switzerland has been collecting objects from Central and South America for over six decades, i.e. several generations. But now the owner herself has dissolved her private collection. This is "an expression of the explicit wish of the owner", the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) announced on Monday.

The private individual, accompanied by the BAK, had already returned the objects to their countries of origin in February. The aim is for them to be exhibited and further researched there.

Specifically, it was about 13 figurines from Colombia, which are modeled on humans or animals. They were once ritual offerings. The BAK also classifies a 1500-year-old terracotta sculpture from ancient Mexico as significant; it is characterized by "particularly fine artistic quality"

A priestly figure from Costa Rica made of volcanic rock performing a human sacrifice is worthy of note. In the world before Christopher Columbus landed in South America (1492), human sacrifices were intended to maintain the balance between the earthly and divine worlds. A vessel from Peru, which is more than 1500 years old, is also of "extraordinary fineness, multicolored" and has many naturalistic motifs.

The FOC supports private individuals and institutions as intermediaries if they wish to return cultural property to the countries of origin on their own initiative. With this commitment, the FOC wants to make its contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage of mankind.

©Keystone/SDA

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