11 August 2008

"For Sale": Stolen Taino Artifacts from the Dominican Republic

Over the past few days I have been contacted by a certain "Lai Tran," writing from either Champs or Marseilles in France, advertising for sale a number of artifacts, all shown below, which appear to be Taino artifacts, though a couple of items may not be genuine originals. No prices were mentioned, nor was the name of the collectors. I was told that the items were taken by two collectors who lived in the Dominican Republic, who have a second house in Nassau, and they "built buildings, public roads and 2 private airports." They found some of the items themselves, and others were obtained from workers and farmers. Some items were collected from "known Dominican collectors and antique dealers in Nassau." The entire collection shown below is currently being held in France.

According to a knowledgeable correspondent, it is illegal to remove such items from the Dominican Republic, but there is little that can be done to get them back. In addition, there are lax controls in place to prevent travelers from leaving the country in possession of such items. According to this one source, what is shown below is the tiniest tip of an iceberg, and even a "vast percentage" of items held in storage at the Museum of Dominican Man have disappeared. In addition, it is alleged that dealers in Taino antiquities have found buyers among officials of the Dominican state.

Posting images of these items is one way to keep track of what has been removed, and a way of posting a "beware" notice to any potential buyers: we know that these items have been illegally removed, and your purchase will also be illegal.

This message has been forwarded to Taino colleagues working in museums in the U.S. as well representatives of the United Confederation of Taino People and the Taino Nation of the Antilles.

May the day come that colonial Indiana Jones figures stop raiding the Caribbean as if it were their private, personal, plaything to be raped at will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The 'story' of the artifacts and how they were obtained is what gets peoples knickers in a twist.

They article states, "...though a couple of the items may not be genuine originals." I can assure interested readers that NONE of the objects are real, thus rendering the argument moot.

Lai Tran and others have been flogging Taino fakes for years. The story of how these 'treasures' were obtained are timeless. Similar articles of pillaged jade masks from Mexico are equally ridiculous.