Peru Requests Paracas Mantles Be Returned Home

Peru has recently requested that their ancient Paracas mantles, textile wrappings that were used to bury the dead and for shaman costumes, be returned to Peruvian museums. Mantles were extremely labor-intensive and have intricate embroidered designs that are important to Paracas culture. The 2,000-year-old textiles currently reside in the Swedish world culture museum, Världskulturmuseet. They were questionably acquired from the country and now conflict with the 1970 Unesco Convention, which prohibits any export, import, and transfer of ownership of art that is considered cultural property.

This seems to be a last ditch strategy of the outgoing president, Alan Garcia, whose efforts to save the arts could greatly improve the preservation aspect of his political career. Negotiations about the ancient artifacts were already taking place between Swedish and Peruvian officials when Garcia decided to take legal action against the Swedish museum, so the additional legal pressure seems somewhat excessive. The museum had even displayed the mantles under the exhibit title “A Stolen World,” an unusually honest presentation of ancient artifacts, which are often claimed and displayed in museums far from their place of discovery, with no admittance of questionable appropriation techniques. The Mayor of Gothenburg and other officials have agreed to return the Paracas fabric back to its original home, bringing the negotiations to a peaceful conclusion.

Aimi, A. (2011, November 17). Peru requests return of Paracas from Sweden. Retrieved November 21, 2011, from The Art Newspaper:

Mayor of Gothenburg says city will return Paracas textiles to Peru. (n.d.). Retrieved from Andean Air Mail and Peruvian Times:

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (1970, November 14). Retrieved November 21, 2011, from Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970:

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6 Responses to Peru Requests Paracas Mantles Be Returned Home

  1. mrcarradine says:

    I agree, it puts a negative spin on the matter that the president is turning it into a means of boosting his own political career. I support Peru requesting their right to gain back their Paracas Mantles, especially since they were taken illegally. Art should be able to be experienced by everyone around the world, but it should be shared in a correct way from attaining it legally. I’m interested to see how this pans out…

  2. etlambergs says:

    The issue of art ownership has caused and is still causing conflict among nations in the art world. I agree with some of the above posters in that Peru should be allowed to take ownership of the Paracas Mantles, especially because they were obtained under shady conditions. The Paracas Mantles are clearly major historical artifacts, denoting ancient Peruvian culture. Peru should be allowed to have ownership because these pieces pertain directly to the nation’s heritage. However, I also agree with others, who have stated that art can be appreciated everywhere, despite its location. The Paracas Mantles are beautiful works and can be valued, even if they are not in Peru. But I do believe that, as their country of origin, Peru should at least be granted more access to them.

  3. rgcolby says:

    Although the legal pressure may have been excessive, it seems like it may have been the extra push that the Peruvian government needed to get their items back. While this undoubtedly had political implications, I do not think that they were in the wrong to continue to put pressure on the Swedish government to give them back. Negotiations can take years, and if there is nothing else at stake the process would surely be slow.

  4. Danny Anderson says:

    This was an interesting read. I’d have to agree with the Peruvian sentiment that pieces of art belong where they were created and intended to be kept. I’m glad that these mantles are to be returned to the place of their origin, allowing the people of the area an opportunity to experience their history firsthand.

  5. tnfeenstra says:

    I think that Peru definitely has a valid argument in requesting that the Paracas Mantles be returned. The legal pressure is excessive and seems like they’re just trying to draw attention to the issue-which helps the political career. It is a shame that politics have such an influence on modern issues in art. We’ve seen this all over the world in blog entries throughout the semester. Additionally, to a certain point, it shouldn’t matter where the art is (unless it’s sacred or for religious purposes) because people all over the world should be able to appreciate it. Granted, it was obtained illegally, or suspiciously at the very least, so this case is a bit different. Perhaps there should be greater legal trade of art so this can happen.

  6. malooney says:

    I do believe that Peru was in the right to request that their Paracas Mantles be returned. Every country should have the right to what is theirs, especially if the means by which another country obtained the pieces are not just. However, like the blogger mentioned, it does seem a bit excessive to put legal pressure on the Swedish museum if negotiations were already under way. It’s a shame that the president would turn this into a way to boost his political career rather than what it should be about – preserving the culture.

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