Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Cleveland Hanuman

The 10C statue of Hanuman at the Cleveland Museum of Art - without its feet

I wrote this post back in February of this year:
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.

Obviously, the media buzz regarding the items stolen from Prasat Chen in the Koh Ker complex have been hitting the headlines recently, so the Cleveland Hanuman is fair game. Yesterday, the following article about the curator and the Hanuman figure appeared on and is well worth a read. Find the article at

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