Thursday, 9 December, 2021
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More artefacts returning home from US



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By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, July 4: Idols of Buddha, Ganesh and a wooden tympanum (Tundal) , all dated from the 13th to 16th century, are returning to Nepal from the United States of America.
The items were recovered by the New York Police while being trafficked to be sold in foreign markets. The police informed the New York State’s Attorney General who then informed the Consulate General of Nepal in the city of New York.
The Consulate General told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Department of Archaeology (DoA) which later initiated the process to repatriate the cultural objects.
An agreement for the objects’ repatriation was also signed between Bishnu Prasad Gautam, acting consul general of Nepal in New York, and Cyrus Roberts Vance Jr., district attorney of New York. However, a lack of budget for shipping delayed the repatriation process.
In the meantime, the US authorities handed the artefacts over to the Embassy of Nepal in Washington DC where they still reside.
Now, the Ministry of Finance has provided the budget through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Our cultural properties will come home very soon,” said Sarita Subedi, chief of the Curio Department and archaeological officer of DoA.
Once the artefacts are back in Nepal, the DoA plans to keep them at the National Museum in Chhauni. “We decided this because there is no information about the original place they were taken from,” Subedi said.
Heritage activist and lawyer Sanjay Adhikari also said that the origins of the objects were unclear. “Due to a lack of knowledge about their origins, the objects can only be put on public display and studied for scholarly,” he said.
Adhikari further said that the New York Police showed exceptional activeness in tracking and recovering the statues and wooden craft.
“Foreign authorities have been supportive in helping us prevent the illicit trafficking and sale of our cultural objects in the foreign market. They have also helped us reclaim and return our priceless items,” he said, giving special mention to the constructive role played by the USA.