Two 18th century ornate doors, looted from a church in Cyprus in the 1970s, are finally getting repatriated from Japan to their original country.
The pair of doors are estimated to be built in 1778 and were installed in the Church of Agios Anastasios in Cyprus. The gold-painted doors feature four saints in its lower half – the Three Hierarchs of Christianity, alongside Agios Spyridon (a renowned Cypriot saint). The upper half of the doors feature an Annunciation scene. The Church of Agios Anastasios was looted in 1974 during the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. The occupation, which lasted years, saw a plethora of antiquities looted from various churches in the region and sold in the black market.
The doors in question were purchased by the Kanazawa College of Art in Osaka, Japan. The doors were first brought in the limelight by Tasoula Hajidtofi, former honorary consul of Cyprus. She also fought a legal battle in the 1990s to repatriate the doors back to her country. Hajidtofi also revealed that the doors were bought by the college from a Dutch art dealer for 14 million yen. Initially, the college argued that the purchase was made in good faith and the doors are legally owned by them. However, eventually, they gave way to repatriation.
Announcing the return of the artifacts, the Cyprus Department of Antiquities described it as one of the most complicated repatriation cases in the history of the country. The department also highlighted the “catastrophic consequences” of the Turkish invasion of the country.