India asks Australia to return two Hindu statues believed stolen

SYDNEY Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:30pm IST

Related Topics

SYDNEY (Reuters) - India has formally requested two Australian art galleries to return two ancient statues of the Lord Shiva after it emerged the artefacts might have been looted from temples before being bought by the galleries several years ago.

In an email to Reuters, the Attorney-General's Department said the Government of India asked the Australian government for the return of both statues, saying they were "exported from India in contravention of cultural property laws".

The National Gallery of Australia on Wednesday removed from public viewing a 900-year-old bronze figure of Shiva for which it had paid around $5 million in February 2008.

"The Gallery is cooperating and working closely with relevant authorities on possible outcomes," it said on its website. "The process for returning foreign cultural objects is handled on a government-to-government basis."

The second statue, an Ardhanariswara idol made of granulite, which represents Shiva in half-female form, was bought by the Art Gallery of New South Wales for an undisclosed sum in 2004.

Both statues date back to India's Chola period and originated from Tamil Nadu, the gallery websites show. The Chola period lasted roughly from the 9th century until the 13th century.

The National Gallery said police in India were alerted to the disappearance of a large bronze Shiva from a temple in the village of Sripuranthan in Tamil Nadu in August 2008.

The dancing Shiva was one of 22 items the gallery bought between 2002 and 2011 from a commercial gallery based in New York, run by art dealer Subhash Kapoor.

He is awaiting trial in India, where he is accused of running an antiquities looting enterprise worth more than $100 million, local media say.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales will continue to "cooperate fully with the Australian Government and relevant authorities towards a resolution," it said in an email to Reuters.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Bollywood Update

Bollywood Update

Movie Review: Happy New Year.  Full Article 

School Shooting

School Shooting

Two dead, four wounded after student opens fire at Washington state school.  Full Article 

Bigger Role

Bigger Role

Google's Pichai to oversee major products and services.  Full Article 

Diwali Glitter

Diwali Glitter

Gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body  Full Article 

Ebola in U.S.

Ebola in U.S.

Two U.S. states to quarantine health workers returning from Ebola zones.  Full Article 

New World Bank Rival

New World Bank Rival

Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia  Full Article 

Assault on Pires?

Assault on Pires?

ISL probes allegation of assault on Pires  Full Article 

Kalki Interview

Kalki on Margarita

Kalki on her role in “Margarita, With a Straw”  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage