SOFIES Welcomes Cancellation Of Auction Of Ethiopian Treasures

SOFIES Welcomes Cancellation Of Auction Of Ethiopian Treasures


   Addis Ababa, May 21, 2002 (WIC)- The Executive Committee of SOFIES, the Society of

   Friends of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, yesterday passed a resolution welcoming the

   cancellation of the proposed Auction of the important Al J Ventner Collection of Ethiopian

   Christian Art, by the Buterfields Auction House in the United States.


   According to an E-mail message sent to WIC today SOFIES also demanded that the sale of

   these treasures in the future should under no circumstances whatsoever be allowed to take



   The message said Ethiopian lovers of their cultural heritage have long been clamouring for its

   preservation. Many of them  are advocating  the return of the loot taken by the British from

   Maqdala in 1868, and from Aksum and elsewhere in Ethiopia by Fascist Italy in 1936-7.


   It said The Society believes that Ethiopian Tabots, or altars symbolically representing the Ark

   of the Covenant, are of inestimable religious significance, and belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox

   Church, to which they should be returned forthwith, thus following the precedent of the Tabot

   recently returned from Edinburgh, Scotland.


   SOFIES declared that the Ethiopian people, like those of other countries,  have a  right to

   their cultural treasures and that these should be preserved in Ethiopia for future generations.


   The Society further called on all people of good will, and lovers of art, throughout the world to

   collaborate with the Ethiopian Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture in its efforts to preserve

   Ethiopia's heritage, and to assist in the speedy repatriation of Ethiopia's artistic treasures to

   the country's museums.