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Lawrence of Arabia's Dagger, Robes Cause Turmoil in Britain - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lawrence of Arabia's dagger and robes

Lawrence of Arabia’s dagger and robes

London- United Kingdom has imposed a temporary export ban on a white silk robe and dagger owned by T E Lawrence – better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – amid efforts to find a local buyer for the iconic artefacts linked to the British history.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, who ordered the bans, said it was vital the “classic objects remain in the UK”.

Archaeologist Lawrence was a well-known World War I diplomat who worked closely with Arab leaders.

Lawrence was one of the most recognizable figures of the war, due to his work in the Middle East and his involvement in the Arab Revolt.

Lawrence posed in the robes with the curved dagger, known as a “jambiya”, sitting for sculptor Lady Kathleen Scott, the widow of Scott of the Antarctic, later Lady Kennet in 1921. He left them with her so she could continue working after their final session as he sailed towards Cairo. They remained in her family ever since until the sale at Christie’s following the second Lady Kennet’s death.

The decision to defer export licenses for his curved steel and silver dagger and his white robes have been put in place in the hope of finding buyers from the UK. The dagger – valued at 125,000 pounds – was presented to the archaeologist and diplomat after the capture by Arab forces of Aqaba in Jordan in 1917.

Lawrence wore the white robes in a famous portrait of him by Augustus John. The decision followed a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

“The robes and dagger together form a crucial part of the images of Lawrence in painting, sculpture and photographs; and they are therefore an integral part of his life and our history,” RCEWA chairman, Sir Hayden Phillips, said.