Four stolen antiques from Nepal arrived in Kathmandu from various museums in New York, America, on Wednesday.
Two Bhairav masks of copper repousse stolen in 1994 from Dolakha and exhibited at Rubin Museum, NYC and Dallas Museum of Art were returned today to Dept of Archaeology en route to their hometown. Also stone Uma Maheswar from Om Bahal, Patan and Durga from Hanuman Ghat, Bhaktapur.
Dallas Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum of New York returned four artworks to Nepal.
Organising a press meeting on Wednesday at the Department of Archeology, President of US-based Newa Guthi Bijay Man Singh handed over the artworks to the DoA.
A pair of gilt bronze Bhairava Mask, Uma Maheswors and a ten-armed Durga statue were handed over on the occasion.
A pair of gilt bronze Bhairava masks, dating to the 16th century were stolen from Nakchhen Pradhan family of Bhimeshowr Municipality Ward No. 2, Dolakha district on March 7, 1994, and reached Dallas Museum of Art and Rubin Museum of Art, USA through several channels.
These masks depict the god Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity which also includes Brahma and Vishnu. They were required for ritual worship during the annual Indra Jatra festival in Nepal.
They were then smuggled to Hong Kong, sold at auction in New York, and subsequently entered the collections of the Rubin Museum of Art and the Dallas Museum of Art.
The stone sculpture of Uma Maheshwora (16th century) was stolen from Chyasal Hiti Falcha of Om Bahal in Patan, Lalitpur, in between 1980 to 1990. The sculpture was located at Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA.
The 10-armed Maha Laxmi/Durga, an artwork created in the 17th or 18th century was stolen from Hanumanghat in Bhaktapur and was located in Subash Kapoor’s collection.
The stone statue was allegedly smuggled out of Nepal by the Zeeshan and Zahid Butt trafficking network, which was run by Kapoor’s alleged co-conspirators. The statue was then purchased from the Butts in Bangkok by Kapoor and subsequently trafficked into New York in the early 2000s before it was recovered from a Kapoor-owned storage unit.
Receiving the art objects, Saubhagya Pradhanang, Director General of the Department of Archeology, said, “The returned relics are our god and goddess, not merely sculptures.”
She expressed deep gratitude to all the museums, the members of the America-based Newa: Guthi, the DoA officials, art lovers and media for their initiative and cooperation in returning the artifacts to Nepal.
She further said that 149 cultural properties including these four, which were lost in the past, were returned to Nepal and many other artifacts are still in several museums of America, United Kingdom, France and other countries.
The USA-based Newa: Guthi has provided financial support to return the four antiques to Nepal.