News / Arts & Entertainment

    Hopi Masks Snapped Up After French Court Allows Sale

    Antique tribal masks, revered as sacred ritual artifacts by the Hopi Native American tribe in Arizona, are displayed at an auction house in Paris, April 11, 2013.
    Antique tribal masks, revered as sacred ritual artifacts by the Hopi Native American tribe in Arizona, are displayed at an auction house in Paris, April 11, 2013.
    Reuters
    An auction of ancient masks revered as sacred by a Native American tribe fetched more than 750,000 euros on Friday, disappointing prominent opponents of the sale after a French court ruled it should go ahead.

    The Hopi tribe of northeastern Arizona and supporters including the U.S. ambassador to France and actor Robert Redford had urged the Paris auction house to suspend the sale due to the masks' cultural and religious significance.

    But the court rejected a motion from the tribe and Survival International, a non-government group representing its interests, arguing that it could only intervene to protect human remains or living beings.

    The auction went ahead in front of a standing-room only crowd, raising about 752,000 euros ($984,500) in pre-tax proceeds as collectors snapped up dozens of lots in a sale that lasted more than two hours.

    An antique tribal mask, Tumas Crow Mother, circa 1880, is displayed at an auction house in Paris, April 11, 2013.An antique tribal mask, Tumas Crow Mother, circa 1880, is displayed at an auction house in Paris, April 11, 2013.
    x
    An antique tribal mask, Tumas Crow Mother, circa 1880, is displayed at an auction house in Paris, April 11, 2013.
    An antique tribal mask, Tumas Crow Mother, circa 1880, is displayed at an auction house in Paris, April 11, 2013.
    The most expensive, a crow-mother mask, went for 160,000 euros.

    A buyer who acquired four masks said he was delighted to be adding to his collection of Hopi artifacts.

    "One day I might give some back,'' said the collector, who declined to be identified. "But if it had not been for collectors in the 19th century who contributed to the field of ethnology, there would very little knowledge of the Hopi."

    Some disagreed. A man with Hopi origins studying in France was kicked out of the auction room for interrupting the sale with an angry speech. Several people trying to take photographs were also removed.

    "We have lots of art that can be shared with other cultures, but not these,'' said Bo Lomahquahu, 25. "Children aren't even supposed to see them.''

    The Neret-Minet, Tessier and Sarrou auctioneers said their collection of masks, priced between $2,000 and $32,000 apiece, was assembled by "an amateur with assured taste'' who lived in the United States for three decades.

    A spokeswoman for the auctioneers was not immediately available for comment.

    "This decision is very disappointing,'' said Pierre Servan-Schreiber, the lawyer for Survival International, a London-based advocacy group. "Not everything is necessarily up for sale or purchase, and we need to be careful.''

    'Criminal Gesture'

    A chorus of opponents had weighed in on the dispute, arguing the Paris auction house should provide legal justification for selling the masks.

    "To auction these would be in my opinion a sacrilege, a criminal gesture that contains grave moral repercussions,'' Robert Redford wrote in an open letter.

    A French supporter of the Indian cause, left, holds a flag of the American Indian Movement and an American exchange student, member of Arizona's Hopi tribe, Bo Lomahquahu, right, stand outside of the Druout's auction house in Paris, April 12, 2013.A French supporter of the Indian cause, left, holds a flag of the American Indian Movement and an American exchange student, member of Arizona's Hopi tribe, Bo Lomahquahu, right, stand outside of the Druout's auction house in Paris, April 12, 2013.
    x
    A French supporter of the Indian cause, left, holds a flag of the American Indian Movement and an American exchange student, member of Arizona's Hopi tribe, Bo Lomahquahu, right, stand outside of the Druout's auction house in Paris, April 12, 2013.
    A French supporter of the Indian cause, left, holds a flag of the American Indian Movement and an American exchange student, member of Arizona's Hopi tribe, Bo Lomahquahu, right, stand outside of the Druout's auction house in Paris, April 12, 2013.
    The U.S. ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, had urged the auctioneers to reconsider, saying in a statement late on Thursday: "A delay would allow the creators of these sacred objects the chance to determine their possible rights.''

    Rivkin, who said that the auction house had yet to provide the Hopi Tribe with essential information about the objects, voiced his dismay in a Twitter message.

    "I am saddened to learn that the sacred Hopi cultural objects are being put out to auction in Paris today," he wrote.

    The tribe's legal advocates had sued the auctioneers at the Drouot-Richelieu auction house in central Paris on grounds that auctioning the masks would cause the Hopi "profound hurt and distress.'

    Lawyer Quentin de Margerie bought mask 13, a design which mocks tourists, on behalf of Servan-Schreiber to give to the Hopi. He told Reuters few of the collectors understood the significance of the artifacts they were buying.

    "It's a symbolic choice,'' de Margerie said. "What the Hopi have said about this auction is that people don't understand their culture.''

    ($1 = 0.7618 euros)

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Border Crossings: A Great Big Worldi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    April 27, 2016 12:30 PM
    Duo Ian Axel and Chad King who are better known as "A Great Big World" released their sophomore CD in 2015, "When the Morning Comes" and they join Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from the new CD and also their biggest hit, "Say Something."

    Duo Ian Axel and Chad King who are better known as "A Great Big World" released their sophomore CD in 2015, "When the Morning Comes" and they join Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from the new CD and also their biggest hit, "Say Something."