Easter Islanders Arrive in London With Massive Empty Suitcase

By Gary Cutlack on at

A lovely present brought home from Easter Island for Queen Victoria in 1868 is facing calls for it to be returned to where it was, er, liberated from, as pressure is growing on the British Museum to give back one of the more modestly proportioned Easter Island figures that it currently has on display.

Back in 1868 Easter Island wasn't a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was just were rich people went to get a nice ornament for the garden. But nowadays we're all slightly more aware of the perils of harvesting world treasures for our amusement and entertainment, with the British Museum – home of all the borrowed things from all the world – filled with many items that the various peoples of the world want back for their museums.

This particular borrowed Easter Island basalt figure currently welcomes visitors to one section of the British Museum, and carries the incredibly ironic name of Hoa Hakananai'a – which roughly translates to "lost or stolen friend."

And the delegation from Easter Island would like their lost or stolen Polynesian artifact back, please, as it's been in the UK for almost exactly 150 years and is an important part of their heritage that shouldn't be exiled in London for the benefit of tourists and the British Museum's cafe revenues. The director of the British Museum met with the hopeful delegation today to see what can be done. [Sky News]