The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Wednesday that it will return the 10th-century religious statue to Nepal after researchers discovered a gap in its origins.
Cultural historians of the region say the icon was stolen from a temple in the Kathmandu Valley about 50 years ago.
The statue shows Lord Shiva, a Hindu deity revered with two disciples, at a residence atop Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. The clouds break against the background of the sacred candy god holding a bottle of nectar, the nectar of the movement of the oceans, which is the origin of life.
Nepal’s Acting Consul General Vishnu Prasad Gautam said in a statement that his government appreciated the museum’s initiative to restore the shrine. “The warm support we have received from the museum has contributed to the national effort to recover and recover lost artifacts from Nepal,” said Gautam.
The return of the Shiva statue is the third time in as many years the Mausam Museum has returned items from its collection to Nepal. In 2018 the cultural institute returned two stone statues: a 12th-century statue of Uma Maheshwara (Shiva and Parvati) and a 10th-century Buddha statue. According to a museum spokesman, there are currently more than 200 Nepalese objects in the collection.
“The Museum is committed to the responsible acquisition of archaeological art and applies strict standards of origin for new acquisitions and the study of long-term works in its collections,” the Met said in a statement. “With the return of this statue to Nepal, the museum is working to strengthen its long-standing good relations with scientific institutions and partners in Nepal.”
In March, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Dallas Museum of Art returned a statue of the deity to Nepal, and earlier this month officials from the Denver Museum of Art returned another sacred statue to Nepal.
“Most of these items are stolen and given away through dealers and auction houses,” said Roshan Mishra, director of the Taragaon Museum in Kathmandu and member of the Nepal Heritage Restoration Campaign. “We have a lot of objects in our inventory, such as a Shiva statue. They came back one by one. ”
The 13-inch artifact at the Met was once housed at Kankeshwari Temple (Kanga-Ajima), a local temple not far from Kathmandu’s historic Durbar Square. According to Mishra, the statue was probably stolen some 50 years ago; It was eventually sold to a collector who gave the artifact to the museum in 1995.