Paris, Nov 24 (AP/UNB) — African artworks held in French museums — richly carved thrones, doors to a royal kingdom, wooden statues imbued with spiritual meaning — may be heading back home to Africa at last.
French President Emmanuel Macron, trying to turn the page on France's colonial past , received a report Friday on returning art looted from African lands.
From Senegal to Ethiopia, artists, governments and museums eagerly awaited the report by French art historian Benedicte Savoy and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr, and commissioned by Macron himself.
It recommends that French museums give back works that were taken without consent, if African countries request them — and could increase pressure on museums elsewhere in Europe to follow suit.
The experts estimate that up to 90 percent of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts. Thousands of works are held by just one museum, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, opened in 2006 to showcase non-European art — much of it from former French colonies. The museum wouldn't immediately comment on the report.
A wooden door of the king's palace Gele of the Dahomey kingdom, dated 19th century, today's Benin, is displayed at Quai Branly museum in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018.
Among disputed treasures in the Quai Branly are several works from the Dahomey kingdom, in today's West African country of Benin: the metal-and-wood throne of 19th-century King Ghezo, the doors to the palace of Kign Gele, and imposing, wooden statues.
The head of Ethiopia's Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Yonas Desta, said the report shows "a new era of thought" in Europe's relations with Africa.
Senegal's culture minister, Abdou Latif Coulibaly, told The Associated Press: "It's entirely logical that Africans should get back their artworks. ... These works were taken in conditions that were perhaps legitimate at the time, but illegitimate today."
The report is just a first step. Challenges ahead include enforcing the report's recommendations, especially if museums resist, and determining how objects were obtained and whom to give them to.
The report is part of broader promises by Macron to turn the page on France's troubled relationship with Africa. In a groundbreaking meeting with students in Burkina Faso last year, Macron stressed the "undeniable crimes of European colonization" and said he wants pieces of African cultural heritage to return to Africa "temporarily or definitively."
"I cannot accept that a large part of African heritage is in France," he said at the time.
The French report could have broader repercussions. In Cameroon, professor Verkijika Fanso, historian at the University of Yaounde One, said: "France is feeling the heat of what others will face. Let their decision to bring back what is ours motivate others."
Germany has worked to return art seized by the Nazis, and in May the organization that coordinates that effort, the German Lost Art Foundation, said it was starting a program to research the provenance of cultural objects collected during the country's colonial past.
Britain is also under pressure to return art taken from its former colonies. In recent months, Ethiopian officials have increased efforts to secure the return of looted artifacts and manuscripts from museums, personal collections and government institutions across Britain, including valuable items taken in the 1860s after battles in northern Ethiopia, Yonas said.
In Nigeria, a group of bronze casters over the years has strongly supported calls for the return of artifacts taken from the Palace of the Oba of Benin in 1897 when the British raided it. The group still uses their forefathers' centuries-old skills to produce bronze works in Igun Street, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Eric Osamudiamen Ogbemudia, secretary of the Igun Bronze Casters Union in Benin City, said: "It was never the intention of our fathers to give these works to the British. It is important that we get them back so as to see what our ancestors left behind."
Ogbemudia warned the new French report should not remain just a "recommendation merely to make Africans to calm down.
"Let us see the action."
Dhaka, Nov 23 (UNB) - A unique fashion show titled ‘Haute Couture’ will be held at hotel Le Meridien Dhaka on Saturday to raise funds for the underprivileged children in the country and promote new designers.
Brazilian Embassy in Dhaka, Spouses of Head of Missions (SHOM) and the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh joined hands to host the fashion show where the spouses of heads of missions will be the models to touch the hearts of those children.
Cosmos Group, REVIVE, Bashundhara Group, Mutual Trust Bank Limited, Dhaka Page3, Bay Developments Ltd, Bangladesh Heritage Crafts Foundation and Le Meridien Dhaka are the sponsors of the event while United News of Bangladesh (UNB) is the media partner.
Before the formal beginning of the fashion show, participants will enjoy a live music at the event where an American band will perform.
“Our expectation is to help the disabled, abandoned and disadvantaged children who need us and our help. We want to raise funds and touch their hearts,” said Sandra Tabajara, wife of Brazilian Ambassador in Dhaka, ahead of the event.
Apart from raising funds for the disadvantaged children in Bangladesh, Tabajara said, they also want to promote the new and young designers of Bangladesh. “That’s why we joined hands with them (Fashion Design Council).”
About live music at the fashion show, she said, “An American band will perform. I’ve another friend -- the drummer of the band -- from the Embassy of Sweden.”
Tabajara said everything there will be in blue and white. “We’ve to wear either blue or white; or blue and white together. That’s the idea of colour code.”
She shared her idea with Maheen Khan, a well-known pioneer in the design industry of Bangladesh, and spouses of Ambassadors and High Commissioners who responded positively.
“We’ll be the models. People will really have fun seeing us as models,” she said.
Rome, Nov 20 (AP/UNB) — Archaeologists have found a fresco in an ancient Pompeii bedroom that depicts a sensual scene of the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan, and a legendary queen of Sparta from Greek mythology.
The figure of Leda being impregnated by the god in swan form was a fairly common home decoration theme in Pompeii and Herculaneum, another town destroyed in A.D. 79 by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius near present-day Naples.
But Pompeii archaeological park director Massimo Osanna praised this fresco as exceptional since it was painted to make it appear Leda was looking at whoever saw the fresco upon entering the bedroom.
"Leda watches the spectator with a sensuality that's absolutely pronounced," Osanna told Italian news agency ANSA.
The fresco's details include a depiction of Leda protecting the swan with her cloak as the bird sits on her lap.
Osanna noted the fresco's context of the Greek "myth of love, with an explicit sensuality in a bedroom where, obviously beside sleep, there could be other activities."
The fresco, with its colors still remarkably vivid, was discovered Friday during ongoing work to consolidate the ancient city's structures after rains and wear-and-tear in past years caused some ruins to collapse, the tourist site's officials said.
The bedroom is located near a corridor by the entranceway of an upscale domus, or home, where another splendid fresco was discovered earlier this year, said the archaeological park, which is part of the Italian Culture Ministry.
Leda is an important figure in Greek mythology. She was said to have borne children fathered by the god Zeus, the Greek version of Jupiter, and by a mortal king of Sparta. According to myth, her children included the beautiful Helen of Troy and the twins Castor and Pollux.
Osanna said one hypothesis is that the home's owner was a rich merchant who wanted to give the impression he was culturally advanced by incorporating myth-inspired frescoes. It appeared the artist was inspired by a 4th century B.C. sculpture by Timotheos, he said.
Because of safety concerns, unexcavated parts of the domus will probably remain that way, ANSA said. Archaeologists are considering removing both frescos found in the home to a place where "they can be protected and shown to the public," Osanna was quoted as saying.
Pompeii's sprawling, partially excavated grounds are one of Italy's top tourist attractions.
Hohhot, Nov 19 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Flying the traditional Chinese eagle-kite every morning has become a habit for the 69-year old Tian Yutang. "It's better to fly kites in spring as the wind condition is ideal, but the eagle-kite is special, because I can fly it in a calm environment, even indoors," Tian said.
Tian started flying kites eight years ago in Baotou in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, when he just retired and needed something to kill time. "At first, I flew the kite quite high in the sky, just like many other kite flyers. But this kite has specific demands for wind conditions, and I even lost several kites when the wind was too strong," Tian said.
Eagle-kite flying attracted Tian's attention in 2013. The traditional Chinese eagle-kite is not only designed in the shape of an eagle, but also mimics the flight path of a real eagle.
"The size of the tail, the length of the wing, and the anchor point of the kite string are all decisive factors. The eagle-kites with small tails are more suitable for indoor flight or in low-wind conditions," said Tian.
Tian's eagle-kites has a strong, lightweight frame, and he glues the eagle-shaped silk to the frame and then paints the eagle feather on it. All of Tian's eagle-kites have four numbers on the back, "That's the kite's birthday, as I would write down the date when I finished it," he said.
Tian does morning exercises with his fellow eagle-kite flyers and sometimes joins kite-flying festivals in China. "Eagle-kite flying is quite suitable for middle-aged and elderly people, as it requires the hand-eye coordination, and it is not so intense," said Tian.
Dhaka, Nov 18 (UNB) - Famous Belarusian publisher Dmitry Kolas presented another book of translations, the collection of the poems by 1913 Nobel Prize winner for Literature Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, in Belarusian language.
The book titled ‘Gitanzhali: Song Offerings’ was published in Minsk in November 2018, said a press release issued Sunday.
The book is off 128 pages while number of circulation is 250 copies. The poems were translated by Republic of Belarus State Prize winner Alexander Ryazanov.
Gitanzhali is one of the nearly four dozen books published in the series Poets of the Planet. The translations were conducted from English - London edition Gitanzhali (Song Offerings) in 1913.
Although Tagore, being an Indian poet, playwright, philosopher, artist, composer, public and political figure, wrote in Bengali, the collection of his song offerings Gitanzhali was written in English during his boat trip to the UK in 1912.
A few months later, the collection was published as a book. And in 1913, Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European poet-laureate of the Nobel Prize.
The series Poets of the Planet already includes Belarusian translations of the poems by Sappho, Francesco Petrarca, Pierre de Ronsard, William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Gabriela Mistral, Omar Khayyam, Charles Baudelaire, Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich Gainy, Guillaume Apollinaire, and many of the poets of Europe, Asia and America.
Among the interpreters - Max Schur, Lavon Borshevsky Yuri Golub, Gregory Borodulin Andrey Hodonovich, Eugene Belasin, Yuri Gavruk, Vasil Siomuha and other artists of the words who have been working on the “reincarnation” of different artistic cultures, different national landscapes into the Belarusian language, it said.