The UK is to loan back some of the ‘crown jewels’ of Ghana, 150 years after they were ‘stolen’ from the court of an Asante king.
The 32 pieces of Asante Gold, named after the African empire from which they were taken, will be returned to the country from the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and the British Museum.
The items will be returned to Otumfo Osei Tutu II – the current King of Asante on a three-year loan agreement with the option to extend for a further three years.
The move is seen as a way for museums – some of which are banned by law from giving back contested items – to return them to their countries of origin.
It is believed that the historic loan deal could create a path for other controversial items, such as the Elgin Marbles, to be returned to the places from which they were taken.
However, some countries are believed to be reticent about using this avenue as it could be used to confirm that Britain has ownership over the items.
The Asante Gold, were taken from the African kingdom in the 19th century, is set to be returned following pressure from Osei Tutu.
The objects, numbering 32 include a sword of state, gold badges worn by officials, as well as ceremonial caps and pipes, are believed to be invested with spirits of former Asante kings.
The Asante, also known as the Ashanti, are a people who ruled over vast area of modern-day Ghana between the 1700s and 1900s.
The Asante Empire gained vast wealth through its gold and agricultural trade, while also partaking in slave trading.
Between 1824 and 1900 the empire was involved in five conflicts with the British Empire and its African allies as it tried to enforce control over coastal areas of modern-day Ghana.
While Asante won a number of these, British success in the fourth and fifth conflicts saw them annex the empire and burn the capital of Kumasi to the ground.
The city and royal palace were then looted, with the gold and other artefacts either being sold or given to Britain as reparations for the cost of the wars.