Saturday, February 28, 2009

INAH to Keep Codex Stolen from French National Library

Update on 1982 theft of 18-page Aztec codex (known as Tonalamatl Aubin) from the French National Library in Paris.

According to El Heraldo de Mexico (January 12, 2009), INAH re-affirms that it will not return the stolen codex to France's National Library.

The French National Library owned the codex for 150 years before being stolen by a Mexican journalist in 1982. The journalist, José Luis Castañeda del Valle, took the codex to Mexico, where he donated it to INAH, the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The French Embassy formally requested the return of the codex soon after the theft in 1982. INAH and the Mexican government refused to return the codex on the grounds that INAH was "all too happy to be pressured by public opinion to retain [the Codex]."

Now, more than 25 years after its return, the codex remains in Mexico, with INAH-MNA, the Mexican State Department (Relaciones Exteriores), and the Mexican government claiming that the codex was stolen from Mexico in the 19th Century and stating, therefore, that it would never be returned to France. INAH refuses to confirm whether the 1982 theft also included a Mayan codex.

Although France continues to officially press for the return of the codex, its low-key diplomatic protests over the decades suggest a deeper agreement, between the French National Library and INAH, that the codex belongs in the country of origin.

The theft from France to Mexico was last reported, briefly, in "Empty Museum Trophy Cases," Denver Journal of International Law and Policy (Winter 2007) Reppas, Michael J.

Before that, scholar Jeanette Greenfield was the sole source of information (and only worldwide English language reporting on the matter) when she wrote about the theft in “The return of cultural property”, published by the quarterly journal of archeology, Antiquities, Vol. 60, No. 228; 29–35 (March 1986)

INAH sources now confirm that INAH and the French National Library may work out a formal agreement creating a "permanent loan" of the codex from France to Mexico, with occasional joint exhibitions in European museums.

41 comments:

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  16. Good, It belongs in Mexico. France knew it had been stolen from Mexico, and it knowingly purchased it anyway. They will never get it back, because it the cultural patrimony of the Nuahtal people and their modern descendants. Oh, and next time dont purchase stolen property out of back alleys.

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    Replies
    1. France how does it feel to have foreign invaders pilfering all your best stuff? Be glad it wasnt the Mona Lisa!!!

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