Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cleveland investigates

10thC Hanuman from Koh Ker - picture courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art
I bumped into the curator for Southeast Asian art at the Cleveland Museum of Art tonight who has been in-country, visiting as many Khmer temples as possible and getting the low down on Khmer art and history. With the recent news media going crazy for stories of looted Khmer art pieces, other items being returned and so on, Cleveland have been doing their own research on the pieces that they have in their museum, back in the United States. A look at their collection online via their website, identifies a number of Khmer items from pre- and through the Angkor period, including this 10th century sandstone Hanuman figure, supposedly from the Koh Ker complex. The figure has no feet so if the piece did come from the Koh Ker site, specifically the Prasat Chem temple, there should be a pedestal or base that would fit snugly onto the sculpture that is in Cleveland. Despite searching the site and discussing in detail with Apsara, no pedestal could be found. It is commendable that Cleveland have actually got off their arse and conducted their own in-depth investigations over here. If they can prove provenance showing that the piece wasn't obtained illegally, then it doesn't look like this Hanuman will be coming home anytime soon. You can see the Cleveland collection for yourself @ http://www.clevelandart.org/art/departments/indian-and-southeast-asian-art.

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