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Collection of 77 Traditional Khmer Jewelry Returned to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has confirmed that the United Kingdom has returned all Cambodian artifacts formerly held by the collector, Douglas Latchford, back to Cambodia. The return of these cultural artifacts is in line with an agreement reached on September 2020 between the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, on behalf of the Cambodian government, and the family of Douglas Latchford.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the Chairman of the Seventh Committee of the National Assembly in charge of Education, Youth, Sports, Cult, Religious Affairs, Culture and Tourism, Hun Many, and other Cambodian officials went to the United Kingdom to retrieve a total of 77 Cambodian traditional jewelry accessories from the Latchford family.

These ancient Khmer jewelry pieces were delivered to Cambodia on 17 February 2023, and include crowns, bracelets, belts, earrings and necklaces from the pre-Angkorian and Angkorian eras, along with some gold and precious metal jewelry which were published in the book, 'Khmer Gold: Gifts of the Gods', co-authored by Emma C. Bunker and Douglas A.J. Latchford in 2008. The book detailed many artifacts that the public had never seen before.

Hun Many has said that the return of this ancient Khmer jewelry is a successful result of the peace that Cambodia has achieved so far. He said he hopes they may have the opportunity to continue doing this research, and retrieving more national treasures back home.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Phoeurng Sackona, stated that the return of these national cultural treasures has opened a new page in the exploration and study of the Angkor Empire. She further encouraged private individuals, museums and other institutions around the world that are holding or exhibiting ancient Cambodian artifacts to cooperate with the Royal Government, through the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, or through the Cambodian Embassies in each respective country, to return these Khmer cultural treasures back home.

It should be noted that in September 2021, a number of Cambodian stone and bronze artifacts were also retrieved from the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has stated it will continue to research and bring back lost national cultural treasures back to Cambodia, as it is in the best interests of the Cambodian people and for all of humanity.

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