Dutch to return stolen Sri Lankan treasures

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

COLOMBO: The Netherlands returned formal ownership to Sri Lanka of six colonial-era treasures on Monday, including a more than 275-year-old cannon inlaid with gold, silver, bronze and rubies.

At a ceremony at the cultural ministry in Colombo, Dutch deputy minister for culture, education and science, Gunay Uslu, signed over the ownership of the objects to Sri Lanka, local officials said.

Sri Lanka´s national museum in return granted authority to Amsterdam´s Rijksmuseum to hold the artifacts until they are transported to Colombo in December.

The first batch set to return to Sri Lanka -- under a 2021 Dutch policy to restore cultural objects stolen from former colonies -- includes Lewke´s Cannon.

Believed to have been a gift from Sri Lankan aristocrat Lewke Disava to the king of Kandy around 1745-46, it was seized by Dutch troops in 1765.

The other items -- two gold and silver swords, two guns and a knife -- are also from a period when the Dutch ruled the South Asian island, from 1658 to 1796.