The National Museum is housed in a building in Sultan Park in Malé, designed, built and financed by the Chinese government and opened in 2010; it was previously located in a three-storied building just nearby, the only remaining structure of the Maldivian Royal Palace compound. It holds artefacts relating to all periods of Maldivian history – though in 2012 the pre-Islamic period objects were vandalised and some destroyed by religious fundamentalists exploiting a period of political unrest.
Artefacts on display include, among many other things, the Loamaafaanu copper plates, written in the old Maldive alphabet. This set is thought to date to the twelfth century, recording the conversion of the people of Danbidhoo, in Laamu atoll, to Islam. This involved the destruction of many Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Chinese intact ceramics recovered during the destruction of the royal palace in Malé.
You’ll have noted that destruction features quite heavily in all these stories. A topic we’ll return to…