Gold and silver regalia of “cultural, historical and spiritual significance” will be loaned by the UK back to Ghana more than 100 years after they were looted from the country.
Regalia associated with the Asante royal court will be displayed at the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi later this year as part of a long-term loan commitment by the Victoria & Albert (V&A) and the British Museum.
Many of these items will be seen in Ghana for the first time in 150 years.
The V&A Museum will lend 17 items while the British Museum will send 15 pieces under the three-year loan deals with an option to extend for the same amount of time.
The collection from the V&A includes all 13 pieces of Asante royal regalia, which was looted by the British army during the raid on and destruction of the royal palace in the 19th century.
Among the items are a gold peace pipe, three cast gold soul-washers’ badges and sections of sheet-gold ornament.
The items were acquired by the museum at an auction in April 1874.
A joint statement from the V&A and British Museum said: “These objects were of cultural, historical and spiritual significance to the Asante people.
They are also indelibly linked to British colonial history in West Africa, with many of them looted from Kumasi during the Anglo-Asante wars of the 19th century.
“Some of these formed part of a British indemnity payment forcibly extracted from the Asantehene at the time while many others were sold at auction and later dispersed among museums and private collectors worldwide, including the British Museum and the V&A.”
Among the 15 objects from the British Museum are small gold ornaments in the form of a lute-harp (sankuo).
This ornament was one of the cast gold objects presented in 1817 to British diplomat Thomas Bowdich during his trip to Kumasi to negotiate a trade treaty.
The loan agreements is not with the Ghanaian government but with Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the current Asante king known as the Asantehene who attended the coronation of the king last year.
The loans will form part of an exhibition planned to celebrate his silver jubilee, as well as commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 1873 to 1874 Anglo-Asante war and the 100th anniversary of the return of the Asantehene Prempeh I from exile in the Seychelles.(dpa/NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Halima Sheji