|A kind of Peruvian woman headdresses|
A looted ancient Peruvian headdress considered of key importance to the country's cultural heritage has been seized from a lawyer's office in central London, the Metropolitan Police said Thursday.
The artefact, symbolising a sea god and made from an embossed sheet of gold, depicts a mythical octopus with a stylised human head, cat-like features and eight tentacles.
It is thought to be an example of Ancient Peruvian Mochica Civilisation Art and dates back more than 1,300 years.
Officers from Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Squad carried out the raid after close work with the Peruvian authorities, Interpol in the capital Lima and government ministers.
A Met Police statement quoted the director of the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum in Peru, Dr Walter Alva, as saying: "Without a doubt, this is a very important moment in the worldwide war against illicit art and the looting of my country.
"We are speaking about an archaeological object of the utmost historical and esthetical importance which is one of the most important ornaments of the ancient Peruvian cultures.
"No ornament of similar quality can be found in any Peruvian museum and it is inconceivable that such an important part of national treasure is out of our country."
Detectives believe the work of art was extracted from "La Mina" archaeological site in the Jequetepeque valley in northern Peru, where in 1988 a tomb was looted and its contents immediately trafficked on the black market.
The headdress is now to be repatriated through diplomatic channels.
Dutch art dealer Michel Van Rijn helped officers in the recovery process, the Met said.
Van Rijn said: "It is impossible to put a price on a piece of history and world heritage such as this because they never come on the market.
"But should it do so, it could potentially reach in excess of one million pounds (1.47 million euros, 1.89 million dollars)."