UK

Lawrence of Arabia's robe and dagger in temporary export ban

Robe, dagger, and T E Lawrence Image copyright PA
Image caption The robe and dagger - as worn by T E Lawrence - have been temporarily stopped from being sold abroad

Temporary export bans have been placed on a white silk robe and dagger owned by T E Lawrence - better known as Lawrence of Arabia - amid efforts to find a UK buyer for the artefacts.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey, who ordered the bars, said it was vital the "classic objects remain in the UK".

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

It comes after a review said the items were integral to him and UK history.

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

A trained archaeologist, he led small but effective irregular forces against Turkey, attacking communication and supply routes.

His exploits were depicted in the 1961 Oscar winning film, Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'Toole.

Image copyright PA
Image caption TE Lawrence - better known as Lawrence of Arabia - on his motorbike in 1927
Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption Peter O'Toole starred as T E Lawrence in the film Lawrence of Arabia

The decision to defer export licences 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 - which is valued at £125,000 - 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 follows 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.

Mr Vaizey said T E Lawrence was "one of the most extraordinary figures of the 20th Century".

"These robes and dagger are absolutely iconic and a key part of his enduring image. It is important that these classic objects remain in the UK," he added.

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