This Aztec Headdress Came to Europe 500 Years Ago. It Can’t Go Home
It was probably a gift from an Aztec Emperor to a conquistador, but it will have to stay in Austria.
In early June, experts announced that a 500-year old Aztec headdress, connected to the Emperor Moctezuma, could not be safely transported back to Mexico from Austria due to its fragile state.
The truth is that this is the crown jewel of the Völkerkunde Museum’s collection of Mesoamerican art and artifacts and the Austrian Govt. has no desire to turn over something which brings in prestige, tourists and scholars to Vienna.
wtff is that shit
So, with this reasoning, you people are saying that every museum should also return the Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Chinese, Persian (I could go on forever) cultural treasures back to where they were born, right? Can you imagine this happening?
Some people may never have the chance to visit a foreign country, and museums really offer people the chance to come closer to understanding/knowing a culture/history other than theirs.
I believe the issue here is that -at least- some cultural treasures, which are moveable, should tour around the museums of the world. Something we don’t see happening often.
Yes, I can see that happening and hope it continues to. Because repatriation is happening all the time and deservedly so. Many museum artifacts were looted by occupying armies and colonial governments. These artifacts you see in these museums are the direct result of colonial imperialism and I don’t see why that should be celebrated and paraded around just so that privileged folk can have yet another chance to learn about other cultures at our expense. There is too much blood on their hands for me to be morally comfortable with that. Xokonoschtletl Gomora, a direct descendant of Moctezuma, has said that no one in that position would ever give their crown, gift or otherwise, and was taken.
My family has Aztec roots so this hits close to home for me. We requested the return of this item back in 1991. My ancestors were almost wiped out completely and we have a hard enough time reconnecting with our origins and maintaining cultural identity as it is without having to legally fight for the repatriation of our significant artifacts. To compare and prioritize your chance to learn with our chance to maintain cultural identity, considering the bloodshed behind that, is an extremely privileged act.
Even if museums across the world were to return all verifiable stolen artifacts, that would only include a very small fraction of the items they have because 85%-90% of artifacts on the market do not have documented provenance. Museums would very much continue to still exist as they do today.