Should repatriation be legitimate or inessential?

Repatriation is an endless debate throughout the era. Should the cultural items recovery to their original countries? Is storing other national historical relic considered as burglary? These are the most controversial query, and it’s hard to adjudicate. From moral, social and practical arguments, how to compromise with the debate points based on neutrality?

A museum is a good place to gather public attention to particularities; it maintains a good range of knowledge, histories and collaboration of cultures; a district for audiences to build up their intellectuality.  The fact of the community that is full of self-motivated learner who eager for knowledge is just an ideal, and polymath only existed as a small population. Hence, an attractive place is needed for the community, allowing them to learn different messages in a broadened field. In such considerable place, effectiveness is merged into any relic by the circumference of the museum.

“Principle like anything taken without authorization from a foreign site should be returned to it” (Baggini, 2015) would be a disaster for not only the nation but also the curator in great museums. It is nearly impossible for a country to lose its imperialism and “atone for their pillage which would only reinforce the grievances from the voice”.  (Baggini, 2015) Agreeing on returns of patrimony will kick off a “massive global repatriation”. (Baggini, 2015)  Certainly, the first rider has to bear the responsibility who starts the floodgates and it’s a disruptive action that affects the whole world. It would be a serious decision. Fragile for transporting fragment is just an excuse.

Correspondingly, the looting without authorisation is not moral and glorified; it is the ethical issues that could not be neglected. The auction has been noted that it would “harm the cultural rights and hurt the feelings of the nationalist from the original owner” (Moore, 2009).  For instance, the set of 12 bronze fountainheads is an excellent portrayal.  Zodiac bronze heads are so representative and have high values since it was from the royal. The feeling of not to know the whereabouts of the collection and has been illegally bargaining “become a symbol of China’s repression by colonial powers which provoked fierce nationalism in China” (Moore, 2009).

On the whole, every nation should have its liabilities to balance the legitimate claims of plundered gains and remain its right for the preservation of cultural heritage.  The Pillager has no absolute guilt for looting by considering all the loot happened in the past civilisation where no one has the exact right to judge. But at the same time, they should have a standard ethic to return some of the antiquities spontaneously. For the sufferer, they should not struggle with the ownership of the items and aim to get all the lost monuments back.  Hopefully, a free return will be the best solution to repatriate instead of letting the origin country to get back their possessions through auctions. 


Baggini, J. (2015). The Koh-i-Noor diamond affair shows ‘returning’ relics is never simple | Julian Baggini. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2017].

Moore, M. (2009). Jackie Chan adds to Chinese fury over ‘stolen’ relic auction. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Mar. 2017].


MIT viusalising culture, (2012). RELICS & CONTROVERSY_ The Controversy Surrounding the 12 Zodiac Animal Heads. [image] Available at: [Accessed 14 Mar. 2017].


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