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Guatemala Rejects Mayan Mask Auction: ‘Object Was Looted’

Guatemala Rejects Mayan Mask Auction: ‘Object Was Looted’


The pre-Hispanic artefact, a mosaic of jade, mother-of-pearl and obsidian, was sold last Wednesday, 3, by Sotheby’s in London, which defends the legality of the deal.

A Guatemala repudiated, this Friday 5th, the auction in London, England, of an ancient zoomorphic mask of Mayan Cultureclaiming it was “plundered” from the country in the last century.

The pre-Hispanic piece, a mosaic of jade, mother-of-pearl and obsidian, was sold last Wednesday, 3, by Sotheby’s in London, on the occasion of the event Master of sculpture for four millenniainformed the Ministry of Culture.

According to the ministry, after learning that it would be auctioned, Guatemala began procedures to claim the piece through its embassy in the United Kingdom, but the company “decided to proceed with the sale,” despite its claims.

According to the statement, the Guatemalan government presented analyses and evidence of the mask’s origin to prevent it from being auctioned, but Sotheby’s argued that it had “a documented history that presumably supports its legitimate departure from Guatemala.”

The Guatemalan government criticized this position, arguing that “there is clear evidence that the export of cultural property from the country was constitutionally prohibited prior to the acquisition of the work on the international market. The work was looted from Guatemala, making it a product of illicit trafficking, probably prior to the 1970s.”

The ministry added that Guatemala will apply to the 1970 UNESCO Convention requiring Sotheby’s to “comply with international regulations and the need to carry out rigorous controls on the legitimate origin of cultural property.”

The mask was made during the Classic Period (250-900 AD) of the Maya culture, which settled in the Mesoamerican region comprising southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize./AFP

Source: Terra

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