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Re: [BKARTS] Britain to return plundered Ethiopian book

Just have to comment that, if the winning country is, indeed, 'civilized,'
there seems to be an imperative there to RETURN the manuscripts to the
losers once the situation has stabilized.  Agreed, it's nice that the
manuscripts were saved from the fire -- and I can't imagine the monks
chose to burn them without a great deal of soul-searching, conflict, and
perhaps even without their consent -- but a truly CIVILIZED country would
understand that the paternalism that evolves out of 'taking care of'
beautiful materials for another country also leads to the destruction of
the 'losing' culture.  As someone wise has said, genocide has many faces.
One of them is withholding a culture's own heritage and artistic
accomplishments once danger has passed.


On Thu, 2 Oct 2003, James Pepper wrote:

> It should be noted that manuscript illumination was something that the
> Ethipians were known for up to the then end of the 19th century when religious
> practices other than christianity came into play and the art of ethiopian
> manuscript illumination (christian) became an exile or greatly surpressed and an
> underground movement.  So one wonders how many manuscripts were destroyed during
> those periods of times and just how likely it was for these manuscripts to have
> survived, if they were not "taken" by the British.
> One of the great arguments is over the return of the Codex Siniaticus to a
> monastery in the Sinai desert.  The German who found it in the first place came
> upon the monks who were using it and other manuscripts as kindling for the
> fire.  And much of that manuscript was lost to heat that monastery. Instead
> large parts of it found their way to the British Library where you can go inside
> any day it is open, go up one level turn left and into a room full of
> manuscripts and look at it yourself.  And it will be preserved for another 1700 years
> or as long as the UK stays civilized which ever comes first!
> Many people seem to forget that if you are in a war and you loose, you loose.
> Lawsuits doesn't change that.  Its like a fight in the school yard, if the
> looser goes running to the Principal did he win the fight? Doesn't matter how
> unfair the sides were in abilites, that is the whole point, someone has to
> loose.  So we go on from there.  Just thank God that the manuscript still exists!
> Meanwhile the world has been able to see these manuscripts and they have been
> preserved for all to see.
> JP

Deborah A. Miranda
Pacific Lutheran University
Dept. of English
Tacoma WA 98447

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