Kyrgyzstan claims ancient gold jewelry sold at Sotheby’s was taken illegally
MOSCOW, December 5 (RAPSI) – The authorities of Kyrgyzstan suspect that a 5th-century Eastern Hunnic gold collar, Umutkor, sold by Sotheby’s was taken from the country illegally, the local 24.kg news agency reported on Friday, citing the Ministry of Culture.
The Umutkor collar was sold in London on December 3. The royal collar and beads set with garnets and glass belonged to Sansyzbay Umutkor, who bought it circa 1890-1895. The collar was handed down by family descent until it was exported to Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2013.
The Umutkor collar consists of a woven gold strap with gold and garnet cloisonné dragon terminals. The two beads that accompany the collar were perhaps the weighted ends of the fastening ties, although this cannot be proven, Sotheby’s said in a description.
It was sold for £242,500 ($380,215).
“The jewelry set sold at Sotheby’s in the UK was removed from Kyrgyzstan illegally. The Culture Ministry confirmed that they had initiated an investigation of this case,” the Kyrgyz news agency reported.
Experts believe that this artifact is part of Kyrgyzstan’s heritage under the law on historical and cultural heritage.
The Saka, a Scythian tribe, were nomadic warriors who roamed modern-day Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan’s State History Museum has a unique collection of Scythian jewelry found in local burial grounds. They include traditional “animal” jewelry, polychromatic jewelry dating to the 2nd-4th century AD, a period referred to as The Great Migration, and a unique gold burial mask.