Officials in Venezuela have recently petitioned for Germany to give back a giant 35-ton rock that resides in a Berlin sculpture park. According to officials the rock belonged to the indigenous Pemon Indians and was procured illegally.
The rock was eventually used as a sculpted piece by German artist Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld. The artist says he legally procured the giant rock in 1997 from the Canaima National Park in Venezuela.
The rock is called “Grandmother Kueka” and according to Pemon lore it is one half of a romantic couple that were turned to stone over their illicit love affair. The legend says if the two stones are ever separated it will cause natural disasters.
Since being removed from its original location the Pemon Indians say they have been ravaged by drought, pestilence and even a mudslide in 1999 that killed 20,000 people.
Speaking on Venezuelan television Pemon activist Melchor Flores said:
“He [Von Schwarzenfeld] used the armed forces, and at that time we were scared of the military. They took advantage of that to walk over our culture and wisdom, because wisdom comes from our ancestors.”
The Venezuelan Institute of Cultural Heritage has asked the country’s foreign ministry to formally petition the German government for the return of Grandmother Kueka.
Mr. Schwarzenfeld tells the Telegraph he has proof that the rock was not removed illegally and he is willing to show the necessary paperwork when requested.
According to Pemon expert Bruno Illias “hardly any” Pemon knew the full story of the stone’s origins and when they were told about the legend and the request to return the stone some found it “quite embarrassing.”