The return of cultural heritage to Klungkung



In 1908 the King of Klungkung decided that he did not wanted to be ruled by the Dutch. In a heroic 'fight to the end', the Balinese concept of puputan,the King and the royal family took their own life.

After the death of the family the palace was raided by the Dutch (and as the story goes the locals as well). All valuable items were taken and sent to the Bataviaasch Genootschap in Batavia, the nowadays Museum Nasional in Jakarta. The collection of Puri Klungkung was split up, items ended up in the Museum Nasional in Jakarta, in Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Some items did not end up in the museums right after the puputan. A good example is the 'offering-box in the form of a winged lion' in the collection of the Rijksmuseum (AK-MAK-280).

The story goes that this item was acquired by W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp in 1934 and that Nieuwenkamp bought the item from locals. This raises the question how many more items from puri Klungkung could have been in commercial trade long after the puputan

Also it is known that some items have been stolen from Museum Volkenkunde shortly after the arrival of the items of the puputan Klungkung. Till now, 100 years later, it is still unknown where those items are. 

Recently we were able to acquire a tombak with sheath through an expert trader on the internet. The item with sheath is acquired through a donation of Westerlaken foundation. Westerlaken foundation acquired the item with the wish to surrender the item to the palace of Klungkung. 

Currently comparative research is done on the tombak and sheath to identify its origin and age.


This blogpost is posted under: cultural heritage management



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