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A lost heritage reclaimed...

5 December 2023 10:46 pm - 30     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Dutch settled in Sri Lanka during a long period of war, first with the Portuguese (1638-1658) and later with Rajasimha II (1658-1688). 

The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was initially interested in the cinnamon trade, but it soon acted as a full blown colonial power. In the 1750’s peasants began to resist the increasing colonial demands.

When Kirti Sri Rajasinha and his chiefs openly supported the rebellion in 1762, the Dutch sent military reinforcements to the Kandyan borders and soon war broke out.

In 1764 the Dutch set up an expedition to Kandy, which failed miserably. During the second expedition in 1765 the Dutch pushed through, destroying and looting the town and palace of Kandy. 

The ceremonial cannon, the golden and silver Kasthane, the golden pihiya (Knife) and the two maha thuwakku, (large wall guns) were most probably among the loot. The ceremonial cannon was already sent to the Dutch Stadtholder as war trophy in 1765 and the other objects reached him in the years after. From 1927 to 2023 November, these objects were exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands.

Sri Lanka had requested for the return of the objects several times since the 1960’s. In 2021 an expert team of Dutch and Sri Lankan researchers analysed the objects and reconstructed their history and provenance. This research formed the basis of the decision of the Dutch government to return the objects.
This exhibition marks the return of the objects to Sri Lanka. It is of great importance to Sri Lanka and the Netherlands as it pays recognition to past injustice and marks the beginning of new collaborations. The stories that the objects reveal may open up new dialogues about the complexities of the past. (Pix by Kithsiri de Mel)


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  Comments - 30

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  • Thomson Tuesday, 05 December 2023 11:49 PM

    Namal and the uncles!...over to you!! Do another round..

    Ama Wednesday, 06 December 2023 12:00 AM

    Since these were taken by Dutch, they were able to return and we have the privilege to see them again. Like wise, will MR (Master Robber) return the looted money ???

    Tissa Atapattu Wednesday, 06 December 2023 12:16 AM

    i thank the dutch govt, for looking after these valuable artifacts for so many years. however, i caution local authorities that these will disappear one by one in the next few years. you may recall, the last thief who stole artifacts from the sl museum said that he could have taken the kings throne too but it was not heavy to carry

    Gert Jan, the Netherlands Wednesday, 06 December 2023 01:11 AM

    Historyknowledge and education is the key to worldpeace and understanding. Wishing our generation and our children learn from our dark colonial past. Our king also asked for forgiveness and apologized to the Surinam people for the horrrendous Dutch slavetrade. I know this is still not enough, but it is a start to create awareness among people. When will the English Royals come to terms with their dark colonial past? By the way, I am mixed race( Surinam father)

    Christian Schools Have Lot of Questions to Answer Wednesday, 06 December 2023 01:26 AM

    I am a cultured Sri Lankan but still it is a big surprise for me to see these things and wonder that our ancestors were able to make them with their own technical talent. As we have been brainwashed by the Christian Schools in Sri Lanka that we were very backward before the European Colonials came to Sri Lanka and “ civilised “ us.

    My My dear Wednesday, 06 December 2023 03:13 AM

    Because the Dutch had it is was preserved if not by now it would have gone missing. madamulana and carlton house should return the artefacts too it is the people property not private property to take or keep.

    Andrew Silva Wednesday, 06 December 2023 03:36 AM

    How about the priceless objects Mahinda Rajapaksha stole. No one can get them back because he is more powerful than a colonial ruler.

    wickrama wijayasiri Wednesday, 06 December 2023 06:53 AM

    They remained safe as they were in civilized foreign hands. We got our last king's crown and throne from the British in the 50's. If somebody cares to examine, I am informed that the jewels embedded in them have been replaced with glass beads by the curators who took charge of them after their return.

    Sambo Wednesday, 06 December 2023 07:38 AM

    These artifacts would have been much safer if it was left were it was bought from. Here we have thieves who smoke American Beedi and robs these. Remember the sword that was stolen at the Colombo museum.

    warren Wednesday, 06 December 2023 08:39 AM

    It would have been better if those artefacts remained in the Netherlands. Who knows what would happen to them over time? We very well recall how some swords were removed from the museum in broad daylight a few years ago...

    Nimal Wednesday, 06 December 2023 08:44 AM

    These artifacts have been well preserved for centuries in The Netherlands. They are unlikely to be preserved for future generations in the hands of us Sri Lankans.

    Kps Wednesday, 06 December 2023 08:49 AM

    I am sure Rajapaksas got the other half. Perhaps under their dynasty what we received and recovered will disappear again.

    Imtias Wednesday, 06 December 2023 10:09 AM

    Are we quite sure all above are our cultural artifacts. Most look like what they brought here.

    Sam Wednesday, 06 December 2023 11:24 AM

    Nothing new form the people who occupied the country, but it will disappear soon as we get. No difference from our level of corruption that's in the country. Enjoy the gifts.

    Mendis, Ex- STF, Security Consultant, Colombo Wednesday, 06 December 2023 11:31 AM

    It is very interesting to read brainless but still hilarious comments by converted Christians who are thanking the Dutch for keeping our stolen artefacts safe in their country. If I have my way , I will roundup these converted Christians and employ them in our prisons to give body massages to the inmates.

    warren Wednesday, 06 December 2023 12:16 PM

    Don't worry. You will NEVER have your way. People in this column are talking about facts. It is not about religion.

    European Wednesday, 06 December 2023 11:48 AM

    Mendis: Holland is a secular country, what has Christianity to do with it anyway?

    Atheist Wednesday, 06 December 2023 11:53 AM

    #Reply to Mendis: why are Sri Lankans like you so obsessed with religion? Brainless people are using religious insults for their statements.

    Alam Wednesday, 06 December 2023 01:06 PM

    It’s more important to ask from the British the puskola poth stolen from uva, uva massacre. These hood the basis for the medical knowledge of the inhabitants of this country.

    Wixie Wednesday, 06 December 2023 01:20 PM

    Dutch never settled in Sri Lanka, it was Ceilao they took over

    Man Wednesday, 06 December 2023 02:30 PM

    Like the golden thrown and sword stolen by that Royal family those will get disappeared with no clue, as before, due to that Royal patronage which is formidable in Sri Lanka.

    Anura Jayantha Wednesday, 06 December 2023 02:58 PM

    Please display them at Dutch embassy to ensure noone robs them and blame it on poor drug addicts..

    Wiraj Wednesday, 06 December 2023 03:27 PM

    @ Mendis, where is the so called 2500 year old civilization intertwined with religion, when most of your corrupt leaders were looting the wealth of the nation or massacring minorities from time to time? People like you will never learn even when the country is bankrupt. Fit to beg for money always.

    Imtias Wednesday, 06 December 2023 04:02 PM

    Mendis, people like you guys are advising the gullible guys to create disharmony in this country. You are the actual traitor harming the image of the nation.

    Ravi Wednesday, 06 December 2023 05:18 PM

    Best is if our colonial rulers themselves return and rule this desperate country!

    Ceylonese Wednesday, 06 December 2023 05:35 PM

    These artefacts canon guns etc. belonged to the Portuguese who invaded Sri Lanka in 1505 before the Dutch who came in 1796.

    Braggadocious Wednesday, 06 December 2023 06:23 PM

    These ancient weapons are not achievements to boast about other than to feed the ego. What has this nation accomplished since the colonists left?

    Rani Wednesday, 06 December 2023 07:17 PM

    Maybe we will get the stolen money from after the Rajapaksa era too.

    Hard Truth Wednesday, 06 December 2023 07:37 PM

    Those things will disappear as thin air like our first satellite lanched in 2007.

    ANNECUNT Wednesday, 06 December 2023 08:07 PM

    MR D.A RAJAPAKSA PRODUCED A SET OF MONSTERS IN SRI-LANKA . THE MONSTERS WILL LOOT ANYTHING IN SRI-LANKA AND PUT 22 MILLION PEOPLE INTO HUNGER


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