Saturday 14 June 2014

Egypt will not abandon its right to Ka-nefer-nefer mask

19th dynasty Book of Dead of Ani
Egyptian State Information Services, Saturday, 14 June 2014:
"Antiquities Minister says Egypt will not abandon its right to “Ka-nefer-nefer” mask":
Egypt lost the pharaonic “Ka-nefer-nefer” mask after the US appeals court refused the challenge submitted by the US federal government against St. Louis Art Museum because it failed to submit the documents which prove Egypt’s ownership of the mask. Accordingly, the court issued its decision that the mask inside the St. Louis Art Museum isn’t going anywhere.

Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said that he will resort to the private sector in the United States to practice pressures on St. Louis Art Museum according to the agreements signed in this regard. He stressed that Egypt will not abandon its right to “Ka-nefer-nefer” mask.
There are a number of opportunities, one of the best seems to be acting on potential SLAM donors, inviting to reconsider whether their money is best spent by going to a museum which through a lack of proper due diligence ends up buying an object that the museum insists was in two places at once, and which they only ended up hanging on to because the US government employed some lawyers who give the impression of being less than competent. The Egyptian government could also seek ways to sue the Trustees of SLAM in a civil case.

 Another option is asking in the framework of the existing MOU between Switzerland and Egypt for an investigation of the not-so-anonymous Swiss collector (Suzie Jelinek) who says she owned this mask before it went to the US. This may well produce some interesting results. In particular, it is an open question how she managed to find and get the object out out of Croatia, then behind the Iron Curtain. What other antiquities have passed through her hands and where did they come from?

Alternatively, SLAM, having made their point, could now make a magnanimous gesture towards the Egyptian people and give them back their stuff. Couldn't they? Maybe though before they do, they can give it a bit of much-needed conservation. And fill in the gaps in the documentation of its collecting history based on what we now know, and trying to follow up what we do not.

Vignette: Ammit, the Devourer of Souls awaits in the Hall of Two Truths the verdict of the Feather of Ma'at on the SLAM Trustees in the Afterlife. There is still time for them to reject their 'second truth'.

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