Cyprus wel­comes home looted rare mo­saic

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS -

A rare 1,600-year-old mo­saic has fi­nally re­turned to its home in Cyprus, more than four decades af­ter it was looted from a church, Cypriot au­thor­i­ties said on Tues­day.

“The mo­saic of Apos­tle Mark…has been repa­tri­ated to Cyprus from the Nether­lands,” said the an­tiq­ui­ties de­part­ment in a state­ment.

“The walled mo­saics of Panayia Kanakaria, dat­ing back to the 6th cen­tury AD, are highly im­por­tant works of art and among the few re­main­ing early Chris­tian mo­saics in the world,” it added.

It was lo­cated in the Prin­ci­pal­ity of Monaco by the Dutch pri­vate de­tec­tive Arthur Brand, known for trac­ing ma­jor works of art. Dutch art his­to­rian Brand spent the past three years track­ing down the stolen arte­fact.

In­for­ma­tion about the mo­saic - a Byzan­tine-era de­pic­tion of Saint Mark - was orig­i­nally pro­vided to the Cypriot Au­thor­i­ties in 2016 by AHEPA, a Greek - Amer­i­can or­gan­i­sa­tion in the USA, said the an­tiq­ui­ties de­part­ment.

The relic was handed over to the Cypriot An­tiq­ui­ties De­part­ment and the Church of Cyprus dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the Hague in the Nether­lands on Sun­day.

The sixth-cen­tury mo­saic was stolen from the church of Panayia Kanakaria in north­ern Cyprus fol­low­ing the Turk­ish in­va­sion in 1974. It was one of sev­eral icons looted from the church dur­ing this time and be­lieved to be the last re­cov­ered.

The mo­saic of Saint Mark, be­lieved to have been made around 550 AD, was one of many that adorned the walls of the Panayia Kanakaria church, about 65 miles north­east of the cap­i­tal, Ni­cosia.

“The mo­saic of Apos­tle Markos was vi­o­lently de­tached and stolen from the church, be­tween 1977-79 by the Turk­ish looter and art dealer Ay­din Dik­men, along with the rest of the mo­saics de­pict­ing the Apos­tles and other saints,” said the de­part­ment.

“The mo­saics were bro­ken down into pieces and found their way in the art mar­kets of the world,” it added.

It was the hunt of a life­time for Brand and one that took him across Europe, where “in­for­mants were ar­rested in un­re­lated cases” and “peo­ple got scared and dis­ap­peared,” he claimed in a post on his web­site.

Cypriot au­thor­i­ties said pieces of the mo­saics have been grad­u­ally repa­tri­ated since 1983, but a few more pieces of the mo­saic dec­o­ra­tion are still miss­ing.

“The De­part­ment of An­tiq­ui­ties con­tin­ues its ef­forts to repa­tri­ate the re­main­ing mo­saics from the Church of Panayia Kanakaria, as well as all other cul­tural trea­sures il­lic­itly re­moved from the oc­cu­pied areas of Cyprus.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.