The United States handed over 157 artefacts and antiquities during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit. The move comes as PM Modi and US President Joe Biden committed to strengthen their efforts to combat theft, illicit trade, and trafficking of cultural objects.
Following the development, PM Modi conveyed his deep appreciation for the repatriation of antiquities to India by the United States.
The list of 157 artefacts includes a diverse set, with items ranging from 1.5 metre bas relief panel of Revanta in sandstone from 10th CE, to the 8.5 cm tall, exquisite bronze Nataraja from the 12th CE.
The items largely belong to the period of 11th CE to 14th CE, as well as historic antiquities such as the copper anthropomorphic object of 2000 BC, or the terracotta vase from the 2nd CE.
Some 45 antiquities belong to Before Common Era (BCE).
While half of the artifacts (71) are cultural, the other half consists of figurines which relate to Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16) and Jainism (9).
The make of the artefacts and antiquities are spread across metal, stone, and terracotta. The bronze collection primarily contains ornate figurines of the well-known postures of Lakshmi Narayana, Buddha, Vishnu, Siva Parvathi, and the 24 Jain Tirthankaras, and the less common Kankalamurti, Brahmia and Nandikesa besides other unnamed deities and divine figures.
The motifs include religious sculptures from Hinduism (Three headed Brahma, Chariot Driving Surya, Vishnu and his Consorts, Siva as Dakshinamurti, Dancing Ganesha etc), Buddhism (Standing Buddha, Boddhisattva Majushri, Tara) and Jainism (Jain Tirthankara, Padmasana Tirthankara, Jaina Choubisi) as well as secular motifs (Amorphous couple in Samabhanga, Chowri Bearer, Female playing drum etc).
There are 56 terracotta pieces (Vase 2nd CE, Pair of Deer 12th CE, Bust of Female 14th CE) and an 18th CE sword with sheath with inscription mentioning Guru Hargovind Singh in Persian.
The Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre has been actively pursuing the recovery of India’s artefacts and antiquities from across the world.
Between 2014 and 2021, over 200 antiquities have either returned or are in the process of being returned.
Stolen antiquities are being retrieved from the USA, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Canada and England, where about 119 antiquities are in different stages of the process of retrieval.
Moreover, National Gallery of Australia has in July 2021 announced its plans to return $2.2 million of stolen artworks to India.
These antiquities had been stolen from across India, including states of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Bihar. (Courtesy India Today)