Sacred Venezuelan stone back home after hiatus in Berlin

CARACAS, VENEZUELA (AP) — A massive stone considered sacred by an indigenous community in Venezuela returned home on Thursday resolving simmering international tension after a German artist shipped it to Berlin over two decades ago as part of a public exhibition symbolising peace.

Artist Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld took the stone in 1998, saying he had permission from Venezuela’s government at the time and only later learnt that members of the nation’s Pemon community were upset.

It had been displayed among five large stones in Tiergarten Park in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate and Holocaust Memorial.

The so-called Kueka stone from Venezuela represented love, according to the artist’s webpage. Other hulking stones collected from around the world in the Global Stones Project symbolised awakening, hope, forgiveness and peace.

The Pemons believe it represents the story of star-cross lovers, each turned to stone by a deity as punishment for marrying a member of another tribe.

Images on Venezuelan state TV on Thursday showed a large crate containing the 30-tonne stone being lifted by crane from an ocean freighter at a Venezuelan port. It originated from the grasslands region known as the Gran Sabana, also famous for dramatic flat-top mountains and the world’s tallest waterfall.