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英語:“’You have our soul’ : Easter Island pleads with British for statue’s return”

The governor of Easter Island has urged the British Museum to return a huge statue, kept in London for 150 years, claiming that the English “have our soul.”

The 8-foot-tall baselt figure, known as Hoa Hakananai’a (“lost or stolen friend”), was taken by the British without permission in 1868. But this week, a delegation traveled from the Chilean island to London seeking its return.

Following a meeting at the museum Tuesday, governor Taria Alarcon Rapu made a tearful appeal to the UK, expressing hope that a loan arrangement could be agreed upon.

“We all came here, but we are just the body — England people have our soul,” she told reporters. “And it is the right time to maybe send us back (the statue) for a while, so our sons can see it as I can see it. You have kept him for 150 years, just give us some months, and we can have it (on Easter Island).”

Chile’s national assets minister Felipe Ward, who joined the delegation, told reporters that he was “absolutely sure” that the museum grasped the importance of the monument to the island. “This is much more than a ston,” he added.

Easter island, known as Rapa Nui in the local language, is famous for the “moai” statues that dot its landscape. Islanders carved the statues to commemorate their ancestors, believing that they represent incarnations of dead relatives. According to the British Museum, around 887 moai were erected between 1100 and 1600 A.D.

The moai in London is one of only 14 made from basalt. Donated to the museum by Queen Victoria, who had received it as a gift, it is estimated to weigh about 4.2 metric tons.

Calls for the statue’s return have strengthened since August, when Easter Island’s mayor, Pedro Edmunds, wrote to the Brisith museum asking for both Hoa Hakananai’a and a smaller moai known as Hava. The island’s proposals are believed to include the creation for a replica, carved on the island and given to the museum in return for the original.

Ward meanwhile suggested that future meetings were due to take place.

“This is the first of many conversations we will have,” he told reporters. “We’re looking forward to the next conversation, and probably the second one will be in Rapa Nui.”

Copyright : Cable News Network. Turner Broadcating System Inc.
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日本語:“イースター島、大英博物館にモアイ像の返還求める”

南太平洋の孤島、チリ領イースター島から150年前に英国人が持ち出し、ロンドンの大英博物館に展示されているモアイ像の返還を求めて、島の代表団が20日、同博物館を訪れた。
この像は高さ約2.4メートル、重さ約4.2トンもあり、現地語で「失われた友人」という意味の「ホアハカナナイア」と呼ばれる。
1868年に英国人が無許可で持ち出し、ビクトリア女王に贈られた。女王がその後、大英博物館に寄贈した。
イースター島の知事は博物館での会合後、記者団に「私たちの体はここに来たが、魂は英国が持っている」「子どもたちの世代が像をひと目見られるよう、数カ月の間だけでも島に返してほしい」と訴えた。
代表団に参加したチリの国家資産相は、「この像が島にとってどれほど大切なものか、博物館に理解してもらえたと確信している」「今回は1回目の会合。次回はぜひイースター島で」と述べた。
イースター島内に点在するモアイ像は祖先信仰に基づき、1100~1600年に計887体が建てられたとされる。このうち玄武岩でつくられたのは、ロンドンのホアハカナナイアを含め14体だけだ。
返還の呼び掛けは今年8月、島の市長が大英博物館に送った書簡をきっかけに本格化した。島側は、現地でレプリカを掘り、本物の代わりに同博物館へ贈る計画を提案している。

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