Thursday, 9 December, 2021

Bhaktapur Municipality takes steps to bring stolen idol from France


By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, July 21: Bhaktapur Municipality has initiated the steps to claim ownership of and repatriate the 12th century idol of Uma Maheshwor which was stolen from Nasamana, Bhaktapur-3 more than three decades ago. The idol is currently on display at the Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts in France.
The agreement to repatriate the statue was signed with the museum two years ago during former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to France. However, it has still not returned.
Sarita Subedi, archaeological officer and chief of the Curio Department of the Department of Archeology (DoA), said that the Department had begun the process to bring back the statue of Uma Maheshwor as well as another statue of Bishnu Laxmi Garud, also called Shreedhar Bishnu, of Chyasalhiti, Lalitpur which is also on display at the Guimet museum.
“The museum had asked us to send some more documents to claim the objects,” Subedi said, informing that the Department had prepared and forwarded the required documents to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
The Bishnu Laxmi Garud statue is from the 10th century.
As documented in the book ‘The Stolen Images of Nepal’ by Lain Singh Bangdel, the Bishnu Laxmi Garud was stolen in the late 1970s while the Uma Maheshwor was taken on May 23, 1984.
The period from the 1960s to 1990s are regarded as a dark period for Nepali antiquities because thousands of cultural properties were stolen and smuggled out of the country during this time.
Meanwhile, Mayor of Bhaktapur Municipality Sunil Prajapati said that the local government had urged the DoA and other relevant agencies to return and reestablish such objects of historical, archeological and cultural value at their origin place – Nasamana in the case of the Uma Maheshwor idol.
He further said archeological objects had to be returned to their native place or country as per the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.