Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bhima's coming home

Bhima, on its way back to Cambodia
Bingo, the flood gates have opened and some of the ancient sculptures stolen from Cambodia are finally finding their way back home. The Norton Simon Museum have now agreed to return a 10th century statue that was looted from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker complex during the civil war in the 1970s. The Temple Wrestler, a depiction of Bhima, is a sandstone figure missing its hands and feet, and has been displayed at the museum for nearly four decades. In June, two figures were returned by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sotheby's have agreed to return the footless figure of Duryodhana and just two days ago, Christie's fronted up and will return a statue of the mythological figure Pandava, which it realises was also nicked. There are nine figures in all that make up the tableau of sculptures stolen from Prasat Chen. For the time being the Cleveland Museum of Art is hanging onto its Hanuman and the Denver Art Museum has a torso of Rama, both of which were spirited away from the same temple. It can't be too long before these two museums bow under the weight of public pressure and add to the exodus back to Cambodia. The National Museum in Phnom Penh will put on a special exhibition of the sculptures once they are back under lock and key.

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