Cirebon sultanate deplores planned auction of artifacts
By Nana Rukmana - The Jakarta Post
The Cirebon Kasepuhan Sultanate has opposed the government’s plan to auction off thousands of historical artifacts recovered from a 1,000-year-old shipwreck in waters off Cirebon, West Java. The artifacts are thought to originate from China and the Middle East.
The sultanate’s authorities said the artifacts were part of the nation’s history and heritage and therefore too valuable to be sold off to overseas buyers.
“We urge the government to act wisely and cancel the auction. It would be better if the artifacts remained in Indonesia and became part of the country’s collection of invaluable assets,” said Cirebon Kasepuhan Crown Prince Pangeran Raja Adipati Arief Natadiningrat on Tuesday.
The auction will be held May 5 under the coordination of the National Committee of Excavation and Utilization of Precious Artifacts from Sunken Ships.
The collection includes around 271,000 items dating from the 10th century, including pottery, jewelry, gemstones and crystal ware.
The loot was recovered from a sunken ship in the Java Sea from 2004 to 2005, some 70 miles off the northern coast of Cirebon. The auction’s value is estimated at Rp 1 trillion (about US$100 million).
Pangeran Arief said the items were part of the country’s history and should be submitted for research rather than auctioned off.