Join Date: May 2006
David, I believe that the only way anybody can actually get any understanding at all of the Dresden keris is to obtain permission from the relevant curator to examine them.
I did obtain that permission, and the price I had to pay was my signature on a legal document that ensured I could never publish, share, or lend any photograph of any item that I had photographed.
Some other people who have published photographs of these keris have broken the conditions agreed to and have laid themselves open to prosecution.
I personally feel that it might be difficult for a German organisation to pursue charges against an Australian over a matter such as this, but there is the possibility that I may wish to examine these keris again one day, and I want to be able to do so.
Incidentally, every other museum that has permitted me to examine their holdings has imposed similar requirements to those imposed by Dresden. In most cases, not quite as formal, nor as frightening, as Dresden, but legally enforceable just the same. In Dresden it was explained to me that the document I was obliged to sign in order to gain access was the result of previous betrayals of trust.