Dutch couple Hubert De Boer and Liesebeth Mellis returned 17 pre-Columbian artefacts to Mexico this Sunday – the latest in the series of restitution of Mexican artefacts.
The transfer was confirmed by the Mexican Ministry of Culture. The Dutch couple had the artefacts in their possession for three decades, though it was not revealed how exactly they came to acquire it. As per the statement, the couple had visited an Aztec exhibition at Leiden that made them realize the significance of the artefacts to their people – not just as works of art, but as relics of their history and culture.
The artefacts were examined by the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico, which verified them as authentic. While the objects were undeniably pre-Columbian, they came from a variety of tribes like the Mexica and Huastec people. Interestingly, the descendants of most of these tribes are alive in Mexico and continue to take their ancestral artforms forwards.
The Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico also released a statement, saying: “The Mexican ambassador to the Netherlands, José Antonio Zabalgoitia, reaffirmed Mexico’s commitment to recover cultural assets of a patrimonial nature and thanked Mr. De Boer and Mrs. Mellis for their initiative in returning the country its archaeological heritage.”
In recent months, Mexico has been making active efforts to restitute pre-Columbian artefacts from major museums across the world. The government have also tried to stop the auctions of such artefacts, as it did last November with auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. However, the auctions went ahead as planned, though the government did have some success in restituting artworks from museums.