British Museum helps return stolen artefact to Uzbekistan
17 July 2017: The British Museum has helped to recover an important medieval Islamic artefact that surfaced in a London gallery after it was stolen from a monument in Uzbekistan.
The enormous calligraphic glazed tile – half a metre in height – had disappeared in 2014. Thieves left a gaping hole after they removed it from the magnificent entrance facade of a 12th-century monument, just over 12 miles (20km) from Bukhara, the Unesco world heritage site on the ancient Silk Road route.
Part of a high-relief turquoise glazed inscription, the tile was thought to have been lost forever until it surfaced in a Mayfair gallery, where it was being offered for sale.
The theft was not officially reported, but an Oxford scholar who had recently returned from the historic site spotted it in a catalogue published by the Simon Ray gallery.
Ray, who had bought it in good faith, immediately contacted the British Museum, which describes the tile’s recovery as “dramatic”.
Located in the centre of Mazar-i-Sharif (the third largest city in Afghanistan), the Blue Mosque finished construction in 1481. The mosque houses tombs for influential Afghani political and religious leaders, such as Sher Ali Khan and Wazir Akbar Khan. These tombs, which were added on throughout the years, vary in size and shape, giving the mosque its uniquely irregular dimensions.
Locals believe this to be the final resting place of the philosopher Zoroaster, who founded Zoroastrianism, one of the worlds first monoteistic religions.
Shah-i-Zinda (Uzbek: Shohizinda; Persian: شاه زنده, meaning “The Living King”) is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Ensemble includes mausoleums and other ritual buildings of 9-14th and 19th centuries.