|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Thursday, August 25, 2016
|France's Rouen Museum Returns Mummified Maori Head to New Zealand After 136 Years |
New Zealand's Ambassador to France Rosemary Banks, left, and Maori spiritual leader Michelle Hippolite, right, cover a Maori head with a traditional koroway during a handover ceremony at Rouen city hall, France, Monday May 9, 2011. Chanting tribesmen opened a signing ceremony Monday that will see the return of the mummified and tattooed head of a New Zealand Maori after it spent 136 years in a Normandy museum. AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere.
By: Cecile Brisson, Associated Press
ROUEN, FRANCE (AP).- A French museum has returned the mummified and tattooed head of a Maori to New Zealand officials after spending 136 years in a Normandy museum, a belated gesture to restore dignity to the first of 16 such human heads once displayed as exotic curiosities.
Representatives of New Zealand's native Maori people sang traditional songs during an elaborate ceremony at Rouen City Hall to hand over the head to New Zealand diplomats, the first to be returned from of a total of 16 in France.
"It's truly a solemn and symbolic day," New Zealand ambassador Rosmary Banks said. "We are very happy at the return" of the tattooed head after so many years in Rouen, Banks said.
For years, New Zealand has sought the return of Maori heads kept in collections abroad, many of which were obtained by Westerners in exchange for weapons and other goods.
Dozens of museums worldwide, though not all, have agreed to return them. Maori, the island nation's indigenous people, believe their ancestors' remains should be respected in their home area without being disturbed.
Michelle Hippolite, a Maori spiritual leader and co-director of the museum in Wellington that will take possession of the head, welcomed the return. She said that the other 15, now at museum all around France, will be returned in 2012.
Hippolite said that "though it may appear" that Rouen's museum is losing part of its collection, it is gaining "an ongoing relationship with a modern people, a people of its time who are tenacious, a people of its time who are courageous."
The Rouen Museum tried once before, in 2007, to return the head but was stopped at the last minute by the Culture Ministry of France. France considers human remains conserved in museums to be part of its cultural or scientific heritage. A law was passed last year allowing the return of the heads.
French Sen. Catherine Morin-Desailly authored the bill to return the heads. Scientists at Wellington's Te Papa museum will attempt to identify the head's tribe, after which it will be returned to the tribe for burial.
Some Maori heads, with intricate tattoos, were traditionally kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But once Westerners began offering prized goods in exchange for them, men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos, French museum officials have said.
Little is known about how the Rouen Museum acquired a Maori head in 1875, offered by a Parisian named Drouet.
"It's an enigma," said museum director Sebastien Minchin, adding that neither Drouet's full name nor profession is known.
The head has not been displayed since 1996, when the museum was closed for a decade. Prior to that the head was displayed with the prehistoric collection.
"As was done at the time, they compared the 'savage' from the other side of the world with our local cavemen," Minchin said in a telephone interview.
It isn't known whether the Rouen museum's head belonged to a warrior or a slave.
The head will be first taken to London where New Zealand officials are collecting other Maori heads that have been returned from collections in Germany, Sweden and Norway, before being flown to New Zealand, where they will be handed over during a ceremony at the Te Papa museum on Thursday.
So far the Te Papa museum has repatriated more than 180 ancestral remains from 12 countries. Museum officials estimate that there are still more than 500 around the world.
When Minchin became director in 2006 and discovered the head, he decided to store it because exposing it "could pose problems" for both the Maoris and the public.
Minchin said that the problem goes beyond legal issues in France. He said he was criticized for opening "Pandora's box" when he first tried to return the head.
"There is a fear of emptying our museums," he said. "There is a fear of restitution demands for other human remains, and notably Egyptian mummies."
France passed a special law before the 2002 return to South Africa of the skeleton and bottled organs of Saartjie Baartman, a 19th century African woman exhibited in Paris and London, sometimes in a cage, sometimes dressed in feathers, under the pejorative nickname, "the Hottentot Venus."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
May 9, 2011
Andy Warhol's "Sixteen Jackies" Expected to Sell for $30 Million at Sotheby's in New York
Stuart Cary Welch Collection: Arts of India to Sell at Sotheby's on 31 May 2011
France's Rouen Museum Returns Mummified Maori Head to New Zealand After 136 Years
Art Institute of Chicago's James Cuno Named President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust
German Photographer Gunter Sachs, Ex-Husband of Brigitte Bardot, Dies at 78
Cain Schulte Contemporary Art Presents Exhibition of Works by Arngunnur Yr
Acquavella Galleries Presents an Exhibition of New Work by American Artist Damian Loeb
Wide Array of "Toys with Character" Take the Spotlight at Bertoia Auctions' Sale on June 10-11
Section of Titanic Hull Consigned by Charles Pellegrino Offered by Heritage Auctions
Ninety Years of Israeli Art from the 1920's till Today at Bonhams in London
Sotheby's Amsterdam Modern & Contemporary Art Auction to Tale Place on 17 May 2011
Dali, Warhol, Chagall Highlight Bonhams & Butterfields $1.6 Million Fine Prints Auction
Albert Einstein's Immigration Papers on Show for Very First Time at Merseyside Maritime Museum
50 Years Later, Students Retrace 1961 Freedom Ride
Pair of Princess Diana's Dresses Sell for $276,000
Three Major 20th Century Works to be Sold at Artcurial's Sale of Modern & Contemporary Art
Across US, Worldwide, Free Comics for Readers
Louisiana Museum Announces 'My Home My House Stilhouse' an Exhibition by Arne Quinze
100 Years of Archaeological Research at Xochicalco Commemorated in Exhibition
Eight Museums and Galleries Win Share of £75,000 to Buy New Objects at COLLECT
Italian Drawings from Renowned Collection Presented at the National Gallery of Art
Museum of Modern Art in New York Presents Francis Alys: A Story of Deception
DC Moore Gallery Presents Transformations: Wood Sculpture by Mary Frank
The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
New Works by Brian Jungen Go on View in the AGO's Henry Moore Sculpture Centre
Artnet Auctions Sale Features Thomas Hart Benton's Exceptional Painting Ten Pound Hammers
Marathon Asian Auction Brings Over 4.5 Million at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
Fifty-Year Career of Peter Voulkos' Work at Frank Lloyd Gallery
Legacy: A New Exhibition by Scottish Artist Roderick Buchanan at the Imperial War Museum
Recently Discovered Photographs Throw New Light on Australia's World War I History
Two Aston Martins Nearly Identical to the Car Used by the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge for Sale
Sotheby's London to Sell Rare Archive Offering a Unique Insight into the Fabrication of the Kiswah
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Goya's Black Paintings reveal their secrets 200 years later
2.- 500-year-old German engraving by Albrecht Durer surfaces at French flea market
3.- X-ray flourescence and image processing unmask the woman Degas painted over
4.- Swimsuit mural of Hillary Clinton creates a stir in Australia
5.- Dali and Lempicka paintings stolen from museum 'found after seven years'
6.- Japan exhibition mourns fading sex culture
7.- Steven and Ann Ames collection to lead Sotheby's New York sales this November
8.- Ancient Australian flesh-eating marsupial discovered
9.- Swimsuit mural of Hillary Clinton creates a stir in Australia
10.- David Huddleston, 'The Big Lebowski,' dies at 85
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.