September 17, 2019

Give us our birdman back! Jamaican government demands return of two Caribbean sculptures that have been in London for more than 200 years

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By Henry Goodwin From Daily Mail UK

  • The sculptures depict a rain god and a birdman and are both around 3ft tall
  • Both carvings, thought to have been made by the Taino people, are at the
  • Jamaica’s culture minister said they are ‘priceless’ and ‘significant to the story of Jamaica’

Jamaica is demanding the return of a pair of wooden sculptures from the that have been in London for more than 200 years. 

The carvings of a rain god and a birdman, both around 3ft tall, are currently in storage at the British Museum. 

They are believed to have been made by the Taino people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean when European explorers landed in the 15th century. 

The birdman statue is one of two Caribbean artefacts that have been in London for more than 200 years

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The rain god statue is one of the statues Jamaican culture minister described as 'priceless' and 'significant to the story of Jamaica'

The birdman (top) and rain god (bottom) sculptures are both about 3ft tall. Jamaica is demanding the return of the pair

Due to war, famine and the introduction of previously unknown diseases, they were largely extinct a little over a century after the settlers arrived. 

The statues were discovered in a cave in 1792 and first went on display in seven years later, according to the museum’s catalogue. 

The treasures are among a number of historical artefacts originating in Jamaica that the island’s government is demanding be repatriated from the UK. 

The British Museum said it had ‘not received any official communication from the ministry of culture in Jamaica’ on the return of the sculptures (stock image)

The British Museum said it had ‘not received any official communication from the ministry of culture in Jamaica’ on the return of the sculptures (stock image)

Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s culture minister, said: ‘They are priceless. They are significant to the story of Jamaica and they belong to the people of Jamaica. 

‘We are working through our National Council on Reparations to have them returned.’ 

Both sculptures were kept in the south London home of art dealer William Oldman until his collection was split up after the Second World War and sold off after his death. 

The British Museum said it had ‘not received any official communication from the ministry of culture in Jamaica’. 

A spokesman added: ‘The British Museum has a number of ongoing collaborative research projects with colleagues and island governments in the Caribbean.’ 

It is the latest row over artefacts at the museum. 

The Greek government, for example, has long demanded that the Elgin Marbles, removed from the Parthenon at the turn of the 19th century, be returned.

For more on this story go to: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7335287/Jamaican-government-demands-return-two-Caribbean-sculptures-British-Museum.html

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