Posts tagged ‘India’


metal-detecting in South Asia: to get a good price, ‘you have to sell in international bidding sites’

This is a postprint of a forthcoming chapter on metal-detecting (and online trafficking) of cultural objects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. To get a good price, ‘you have to sell in international bidding sites’: trafficking of metal-detected cultural goods from South Asia.

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a dismembered Buddha from Indonesia sold for 246 per cent more than its estimate at Christie’s Paris auction

By the market’s seemingly only definition, profit, Christie’s Paris auction of sacred images and other antiquities from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet was a success. By any other definition, its results were more questionable.

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Christie’s Paris auction of sacred images and other antiquities from Asia, 14th December 2016

Today, Christie’s Paris auction house is offering sacred images and other antiquities from Asia, specifically Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet. Almost none of the 88 objects has a secure and complete collecting history. Numerous objects appear to have “surfaced“, in archaeologists David Gill and Christopher Chippindale’s term, at this auction.

Thus, with regard to almost all of the 88 objects, there does not appear to be sufficient evidence to reassure ethical buyers that they are not taking any risk of handling stolen cultural goods, illicitly exported cultural goods or illicitly imported cultural goods.

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Check your provenance

As has oft been pointed out (sometimes with magnificent style), even the Big Three auction houses, which are the most visible, most monitored and apparently most diligent actors in the antiquities market, have a problem with provenance – or the lack of it. Judging by their auctions, that problem remains.

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tense being reviewed: antiquities looting to order in India

A month ago, Donna Yates, who teaches on the Postgraduate Certificate in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime for the University of Glasgow, kindly reviewed my analysis of looting-to-order/theft-to-order of cultural property in (open access) Cogent Social Sciences. I’m now finally clawing my way back to electronic life and wanted to highlight it here.

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Does the ‘e’ in eBay stand for ‘easy’? Antiquities from India, Egypt or Ukraine, via the US, Turkey or Cyprus…

Archaeologist-lawyer Tess Davis saw an advert for an Ancient Sarcophagus with Hieroglyphics from Egypt on Facebook. As she said, ‘shame!’ But it’s difficult to know where to begin. Obviously, neither Facebook nor eBay vets adverts for suspect products (which are, presumably, automatically selected by computer algorithms), and eBay doesn’t vet the material that is sold directly through it either.

Their immediate defence is that the sellers are responsible for the things that they sell (or mis-sell to evade vetting); there is too much material for them to vet; and they are proactive when they are notified of a problem. As archaeologist Paul Barford lamented of the online trade in metal-detected antiquities from Britain, ‘this has been going on day-after-day, week after week, almost since the beginning’ of eBay in 1995.

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Asia Week auction, WTF16: India – river goddess temple carving?

The Xanadu Gallery has a carving of the river goddess Yamuna in a (temple(?)) door jamb from India.

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Asia Week auction, WTF8: India(?), Burma/Myanmar(?). One object, two origins: ignorance or obfuscation?

John Siudmark Asian Art also has a Buddhist plaque from either ‘Bihar [in India] or Burma[/Myanmar]‘.

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Asia Week auction, WTF1: India – broken sandstone Jain statue

Lacking an established coding system for the most troubling antiquities in the Asia Week auction, I’m going to give them the random letter code “WTF”.

Christophe Hioco has a sandstone statue from India, that has been broken off at the ankles and from its backpiece/building. It’s been ‘in the same French family for more than 25 years’.

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