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Replicas of Nepali stolen statues (Photo Feature)

Pratik Ghimire

Pratik Ghimire

Replicas of Nepali stolen statues (Photo Feature)

The statue of Brahma of the 12th century was stolen in early 1980 from Mrigasthali | Photos: Nepal Vocational Academy

In Aug 2022, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York, US, returned two archeological artifacts to Nepal: a 10th-century stone statue and a 13th-century wooden strut. These artifacts had arrived at the Met in the 90s. 

The statue of Mahagauri of the 13th century was stolen in 1970 from Deopatan.

This is just one incident of lost and stolen historical, cultural and archeological heirlooms cropping up in personal and museum collections in different parts of the world. Rabindra Puri, Nepali conservationist, and his team are doing their best to return such pieces of Nepali art, history and culture. 

The statue of Dancing Ganesh of the 15th century was stolen in mid 1985 from Sanga.

Puri has started the project called ‘The Museum of Stolen Art’, which aims to preserve traditional arts, artifacts and monuments of Nepal by raising awareness about lost and stolen artifacts. 

The statue of Female Divinity of the 18th century was stolen in early 1980 from Patan.

“As an initial step, we planned to display the replicas of 50 lost and stone sculptures. To date, we have already made 40 replicas,” he says.

The statue of Mahankal of the 17th century was stolen in 2009 from Inchotol, Bhaktapur.

These replicas are displayed at The Heritage Gallery in Toni Hagen House, Bhaktapur. These deities are not for sale, and will be taken to the Museum of Stolen Art in Panauti, Kavre, once the building is completed. 

The statue of Garudasana Vishnu of the 10th century was stolen in late 1970 from Hyumat Tol, Kathmandu.

All of these facsimiles were crafted under the leadership of a renowned stone artist Timir Nashan Ojha and his team of 11 Nepali and Indian sculptors. 

The statue of Vishnu with Laxmi and Garuda of the 10th century was stolen in 1983 from Bhaktapur.

“The former US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry was very supportive in helping us bring back the statues,” Puri says. “I hope the newly appointed ambassador will continue to show us the similar level of support.” 

The statue of Uma-Mahesvara of the 8th century was stolen in 1983 from Pashupatinath Temple.
The statue of Buddha Flanked by Bodhisattvas of the 9th century was stolen in late 1970 from Alkohiti, Patan.
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