More to Mughal Than Meets the Eye

Posted on January 22, 2009


In keeping with our recent theme of manuscript theft, an Australian woman was caught trying to smuggle pages torn from a Mughal manuscript out of Egypt  (Notably, the majority of pages stolen by Farhad Hakimzadeh, the manuscript thief discussed on this here blog, were from Mughal manuscripts.)

The Mughal Empire was an Islamic imperial power that ruled parts (and then most) of India in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.  The manuscript the she-thief tore the pages from belongs to the Islamic Arts Museum in Cairo.

Now, if we apply Hawass’ typical perspective about the proper home of artifacts being in their nation of origin, shouldn’t those manuscripts be in India anyway?  How does someone with nationalist cultural property perspectives justify holding on to artifacts which originated in other countries?  Just thinking aloud here.

For some reason I can’t link to the Alarab Online article, but here is the text:

Egyptian authorities have seized stolen pages torn from an illustrated
Mughal-era manuscript from an Australian woman trying to smuggle them
out of the country, Egypt’s antiquities authority said.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s chief archaeologist and the general secretary of
the Supreme Antiquities Council, said in a statement the pages may be
from a book dating from the Indian Mughal period, which began around
the early 16th century.

The manuscripts will be returned to the Islamic Arts Museum in Cairo,
the statement said.

Egypt is home to some of the world’s richest antiquities including
pharaonic treasures, Roman ruins and Judeo-Christian and Islamic

Egypt has launched several campaigns in recent years to secure the
return of antiquities illegally removed from the most populous Arab

Since 2002, it has succeeded in bringing home around 5,000 stolen or
smuggled artefacts, the ministry of culture said.

Read about the Mughals on Wikipedia.

Earlier posts about Farhad Hakimzadeh and his crime and sentencing.

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