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The Kueka stone was taken from Venezuela more than two decades ago to be part of a public exhibition in the German capital. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described the stone as "spiritual treasure."
A sacred stone for the indigenous Pemon community arrived in Venezuela on Thursday, more than two decades after it was taken for a public art exhibition in the German capital, Berlin.
Bavarian artist Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld removed the so-called Kueka stone from Venezuela in 1998. He claimed that the Venezuelan government had given him permission to use it for an exhibition, saying it would symbolize love.
Von Schwarzenfeld's Global Stones Project brought together five large stones from across the globe, with the others symbolizing awakening, hope, forgiveness and peace.
"I spoke with ministers, indigenous people, managers and the man on the street, and learned about Venezuelans' ambitions and problems," von Schwarzenfeld said. "I filed an application and started the project. South of the Orinoco River, I found a red granite boulder to be the first stone for my project."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday said the sacred stone was a "spiritual and cultural treasure" for the country.
"The Kueka stone begins its journey back to the place it had always been for thousands of years," Maduro said in a televised speech.
The 30-ton (27-metric ton) stone will now be transferred from a Caribbean port to Venezuela's Gran Sabana grasslands region, home to the world's tallest waterfall.
The Pemon community believes the Kueka stone represents the story of two lovers from different tribes who defied the gods to marry, only to be turned to separate stones as punishment. The Kueka stone is described as the Pemons' grandmother.
Germany had returned the stone as a sign of "goodwill and willingness to respect the peoples' cultural rights," according to Venezuelan officials.