This week, the British Museum is sending an important Islamic tile, feared lost forever, on its journey back to Uzbekistan.
The large 13th-century glazed calligraphic tile was removed from the Chashma-i Ayub monument near Bukhara in 2014, after which point it was illegally exported and entered the art market.
In October 2016, Professor James Allan, former Keeper of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, identified the turquoise tile in a catalogue published by London’s Simon Ray gallery. Mr Allan and Mr Ray, who had acquired the artefact in good faith, contacted the British Museum, where the tile was deposited for official confirmation and investigation.
The British Museum will present the artefact to the Uzbek Embassy in an official handover this week in London.
According to a report by The Guardian, Mr Ray’s key concern is to return the artefact to its rightful home on the Chashma-i Ayub monument, dedicated to the Islamic prophet Ayyub.
“I’d like to pay to put it back on the building. You can see the gap, which is quite horrifying,” he stated.