Sweden to return ancient Andean textiles to Peru soon

One of the ancient Paracas textiles to be returned by Sweden.

One of the ancient Paracas textiles to be returned by Sweden.

17:40 | Lima, Jun. 05.

A unique collection of ancient Andean textiles will soon return to Peru, more than 80 years after they were smuggled out of the country to end up in Gothenburg city, Sweden.
The looted antiquities — brilliantly colored burial shrouds from an Andean civilization that flourished a thousand years before Columbus — are returning to Peru for a ceremonial handover in Lima.

According to Peru’s vice minister of cultural patrimony, Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, the mayor of Gothenburg is delivering four of them on June 18. 

One is a woven mummy’s cloak, about 40 by 60 centimeters, with tiles of animals that appear to signify time periods or the seasons.

The 89 embroidered textiles, named for the Paracas peninsula where they were unearthed around 1930 and then smuggled out by the Swedish consul, were displayed at the National Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg.

Gothenburg has never disagreed that the almost 3000-year-old textiles were “illegally exported” and has made arrangements with Peru for their return, the New York Times reported.

Because the textiles are extremely fragile and require delicate handling, the last pieces from Sweden won’t arrive until 2021, Mr. Castillo Butters said.

He said their cultural and monetary value exceeded that of the thousands of antiquities from Machu Picchu that Yale excavated for research a century ago and returned in 2011 and 2012.

The head of conservation of the National Museum of World Culture, Lars-Erik Barkman, referred questions about the repatriation to the city of Gothenburg. But he said, “the objects belong to the world.”


Published: 6/5/2014
Most read