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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Easter Islanders want their moai returned
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Easter Islanders want their moai returned
tikitube
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Apr 25, 2017
Posts: 278
From: Ozark Underwater Cliffs
Posted: 23 days ago; 3:30 pm   Permalink

Seems to me like their offer to replace it with an exact replica makes this a no-brainer for the museum.

Just because it was a common practice to steal cultural artifacts at one point in time doesn't make it right.

I remember reading Aku Aku and thinking that Heyerdahl was a bit of an asshole when he kept bragging about tricking the natives into giving him their ancestral carvings, even though I thought Heyerdahl was a pretty cool guy.

The real question is this...if the museum refuses and the Easter Islanders were to find a way to steal it back, would they be in the wrong?


[ This Message was edited by: tikitube 2018-11-19 15:30 ]


 
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Sandbartender
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 02, 2018
Posts: 47
From: The North Coast
Posted: 23 days ago; 3:59 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2018-11-19 15:30, tikitube wrote:

The real question is this...if the museum refuses and the Easter Islanders were to find a way to steal it back, would they be in the wrong?


[ This Message was edited by: tikitube 2018-11-19 15:30 ]



Sounds like the plot of a great movie. Where a crack team of islanders both smuggle copy of an 8 ton statue INTO a museum, and boost the original out- all under the cover of night.


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 5001
Posted: 23 days ago; 5:17 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2018-11-19 15:03, MadDogMike wrote:
Every ancient artifact in every museum in the world once belonged to another culture, just as every bit of land once belonged to another culture. I can see the Rapa Nui wanting their Moai back and I appreciate that they are willing negotiate for it. But I also see how this could get out of hand.



Great point Mike.

In New York where my wife is from they had a treaty that in time the land went back to the Indians well the time came and now people who had a house on that land now pay rent to the Indians and the Indians can at any time say move your house.

Can you imagine having your house on land that was not your land?
But then I would never buy a house with that kind of stipulation, and heck I would never want to live there it is a run down town for sure.

And before you say we took the land from them remember we also took homes from the Japanese in the 50s no less and you never hear about that.


 
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JasonMa
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 05, 2017
Posts: 62
Posted: 23 days ago; 5:43 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2018-11-19 17:17, tikiskip wrote:
Quote:

On 2018-11-19 15:03, MadDogMike wrote:
Every ancient artifact in every museum in the world once belonged to another culture, just as every bit of land once belonged to another culture. I can see the Rapa Nui wanting their Moai back and I appreciate that they are willing negotiate for it. But I also see how this could get out of hand.



And before you say we took the land from them remember we also took homes from the Japanese in the 50s no less and you never hear about that.


Other than the laws passed in 1988 and 1992 providing them restitution, the official apology from the government in 2013, California having a day honoring/remembering what happened since 2011, George Takei having an award-winning one-man stage show about it...


 
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Cammo
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Joined: May 18, 2006
Posts: 2032
From: San Diego
Posted: 23 days ago; 6:22 pm   Permalink

"Every ancient artifact in every museum in the world once belonged to another culture... But I also see how this could get out of hand." - MadDogMike

This is a really interesting question, mostly because EVERYTHING in a museum is there because it has lasting cultural significance, heck brah, that's why it's there!

What if a past government gave or sold a statue to a foreign museum, but the current government wants it back now? What if that original government was a dictator? Or - what if it was a democracy? Is there a right/wrong difference anyway? How do we ever settle the question for future generations, considering the fluidity of statecraft?

An enormous amount of objects on display in museums were either originally stolen, slipped out of the countries quietly, or simply wouldn't be there under current laws; Egypt has extremely harsh new laws about removing their antiquities. (Basically, you can't remove them. Don't even try.) Of course, the Egypt of 100 years ago was shoving mummies at tourists.

Yeah, and those statues made of gold?
Sure, they're worth a LOT.
Usually the term is "priceless."


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 5001
Posted: 22 days ago; 12:31 am   Permalink

"Other than the laws passed in 1988 and 1992 providing them restitution, the official apology from the government in 2013, California having a day honoring/remembering what happened since 2011, George Takei having an award-winning one-man stage show about it"

That is good to hear, Lets say you don't hear about it in Ohio then.


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 5001
Posted: 22 days ago; 03:38 am   Permalink

You know drew Barrymore's grandfather had a room with oddities in it and one thing was a shrunken head.

Well back in the 20s 30s it was popular to go on safari and one of the souvenirs offered was shrunken heads, like from really people, well ex real people.

It was said that you would get the strength of a strong warrior if you had his head, that and the ones with tattoos were very popular.

So they went out and got more of the tattooed natives to fill this demand, for heads!

Not statues, but real peoples heads!

Nobody is asking for those back.

I once saw one for sale at a antique store, I think it was real maybe as I have seen a real shrunken head before but I did not buy it as I felt it may have some bad ju ju thinking somebody did take his head after all.
(They make fake shrunken heads out of goat skin)

So I don't know if a statue is something to lose your head over or not.
Har!


 
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Phillip Roberts
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Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1665
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 22 days ago; 08:18 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2018-11-20 03:38, tikiskip wrote:







Nobody is asking for those back.




Actually more often then you think.
_________________
Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
Available now from Bess Press Hawaii.


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MadDogMike
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Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 9284
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 22 days ago; 09:25 am   Permalink

Definitely a complex problem with no easy answers. But we seem to be on a societal pendulum swing to over-correct for past sins, I can see how this could easily go awry.

 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 5001
Posted: 22 days ago; 09:46 am   Permalink

Actually more often then you think.

Wow, who knew.


 
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Cammo
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Joined: May 18, 2006
Posts: 2032
From: San Diego
Posted: 22 days ago; 11:03 am   Permalink

"Seems to me like their offer to replace it with an exact replica makes this a no-brainer for the museum." -Tikitube

I'll throw a wrench in here:

The British Museum exchanges the Moai (lifted in 1868) for a copy.

The Easter Island Development Commission accepts the Moai.

They sell it to a Russian museum for $7,300,000.00 a week later, before it's shipped back.

Then they build an all-new State of the Art EADC (Easter Island Development Commission) Visitor Center at the boat dock with the proceeds.

Hmmm.....


 
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aquarj
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Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1115
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 22 days ago; 6:36 pm   Permalink

Which ancestors would be honored by the return of the moai? I doubt the current goal is to honor the birdman-era Rapa Nui islanders, who were pretty demonstrative about their REBUKE OF THE MOAI. I thought they INTENTIONALLY toppled or destroyed pretty much all the freestanding moai by the time that one was taken to England. And often face down in a way that broke their necks - it almost looks like they would've gladly ground them into dust too if they could've! Maybe they even had reasons that'd make sense if we knew the whole story, like if the moai were seen as oppressive symbols, as in the long-ears vs. short-ears story. (Maybe not!)

So if this restoration movement is not about honoring THOSE birdman-era ancestors, then probably it's about honoring the OTHER earlier ancestors who created and RESPECTED THE MOAI. That makes sense, but let's acknowledge that the island's ancestral heritage didn't necessarily have a uniform outlook. In this case what honors some, might even insult others. Humans are complicated!

You know, many of us feel like it's the right thing to save a (tiki) work of art when it's clearly going to be destroyed or cast off by its owners. There is virtue in obtaining an artifact, out of appreciation for its esthetic value, at a time when its stewards would destroy it. I don't know the detailed circumstances when the Brits got it, other than a rough impression that it was AFTER the moai were no longer valued in the island culture. But I suspect it's more complicated than the black and white allegations people relish these days - painting historical events as stealing or whatever.

I do think there's something to be said for the fact that the moai was preserved at the British Museum, where many have gotten the chance to appreciate it in a respectful way. And it seems fair to acknowledge that it's been in the museum a long time now and has a history there as well (how long was it on the island in the first place?). But I think one shouldn't discount the moai's origins on Rapa Nui. There's still some beauty in the thought that the moai might return "home" someday.

-Randy


 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 5001
Posted: 21 days ago; 06:29 am   Permalink

Some great points there.
It is good that this discussion has not turned into the your a racist for having a different view type stuff that happens so often today.

If you think about the wars some old Hitler, and some new Taliban, LOTS of old artifacts have been destroyed for all time if you split the location of these items you greatly increase the odds of more of it surviving these types of events and even other ways that these things could be harmed.

I would think a museum would be one of the safest places for it to be especially one in England as it would take a very big war event to harm it.

Another thing I always think is going on is it's not about the statue, it's not about the "people" wanting it back, But more so the thought of the curators wanting their fifteen minuets of fame or even a lifetime of fame being the force "that did the right thing and brought the Moai back"

And their names would be in the history books and right next to the statue telling the story on a plaque.

Or even the publicity that all this dust kicking will give them.

Hey what about the NOBEL prize!
They could get a PRIZE for this selfless deed.
And a million bucks!
Did you know you get a million bucks for wining that!?

Look at the work we did.
Hey at any rate they get a free trip/trips to England.

Being around professors is where all this jaded talk comes from, I did not make it up.

It even still could come from good intentions too.


 
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Cammo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 18, 2006
Posts: 2032
From: San Diego
Posted: 21 days ago; 10:54 am   Permalink

Does the Thor Heyerdahl (Kon-Tiki) Museum in Oslo still have all the carvings he coaxed from the islanders?

These ancient small-sized carvings were kept secretly in caves and "polished" regularly using sand. Thor wanted them preserved before they were literally dissolved using the sand rubbed over the detailed stone.

Thor sincerely believed these carvings were WAY too important historically to leave on the island - in the hands of the islanders whose "magical" application of sand was pretty dang ill-considered.

And keep in mind that Thor's journey, his study of the Moai and protection of the carvings were one of the explosive origins of the whole Tiki movement & serious appreciation and study of South Seas cultures that continues to this day...


 
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tikitube
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Apr 25, 2017
Posts: 278
From: Ozark Underwater Cliffs
Posted: 21 days ago; 12:28 pm   Permalink

I'm a big Heyerdahl fan, but his approach at obtaining artifacts doesn't sit well with me.

We can try to justify that the ends (preservation and exposure to a larger audience) justifies the means, but ultimately he used their superstitions against them and flat out lied to procure many of the items. He explains it in detail in his books, and while he professed a respect for these people, he also seemed proud of his success at tricking them.


 
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