A collection of porcelain antiques removed from a late-19th century stupa in Oudong were returned yesterday to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts by a pair of Japanese collectors.
The 119 floral ornaments (pictured) originally adorned a stupa at Phnom Oudong that was built in 1891. They were unveiled yesterday at a ceremony at the National Museum in Phnom Penh presided over by Culture Minister Phoeung Sakona.
“These antiques must have been lost or stolen during the war period in Cambodia,” said Prak Sonara, director of the Department of Heritage at the Culture Ministry. The ministry was informed in October by a foreign archaeologist that the artefacts were being displayed by a Japanese collector. Sonara travelled to Japan to inspect the ornaments and meet the collector, who promised to return them to the Cambodian government.
He was told by the couple that they had found the antiques in Bangkok. “As we know, most of our historical and cultural value has been trafficked out of the country and usually ended up there,” Sonara said. “It is magnificent that they could understand the value of our heritage and they are willing to return it back to us.”