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With the HR&CE and temple authorities continuing to be lax in their documentation, this expose shows again the importance of photo documenting our temple treasures.

Little did I realise that this innocuous looking book held within itself a vital clue.

South-indian images of gods and goddesses (1916)

available for free download here

page 109 in the book ( 129 in the pdf) has this photograph of a Somaskanda

book

The label simply states Somaskanda ( metal), sivankudal

038

This is a very unique somaskanda wherein the Siva and Uma have been cast seperately with indivudual pedestals. For those who know about bronze casting, the difficulty of such an attempt is evident - having to match the pedestals not only for height but also for the runner designs.

Thankfully this provides us some vital clues in identifying this bronze, which is currently in the Asian Civilisations Museum being purchased in the year 2000.

museum catalogue
acm somaskanda

Let us compare the two

ss
shiva
uma
skanda
antelope
uma attributes n hands
uma face n ornaments
shiva face n ornaments
pedestal

It is without doubt the same bronze. Further our enquiries have revealed that the temple has no other bronze currently - ie has lost all its treasures. The Book sadly has no other bronzes listed from this temple and from our checking no other book has any references to this temple. It is sadly an ASI protected site with no documentation.

Now, its up to the authorities to investigate this and establish the chain. But if this is confirmed it pushes the string of robberies to pre 2000 and many more temple bronzes and sculptures sold by the dealer into the ambit of “shady” dealings.

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We have had some welcoming developments with regard to the Kapoor loot with respect to the main items in Australian Galleries - namely the Vriddhachalam Ardhanari which we discovered - check statement and the NGA Nataraja check statement- . Thanks to the ABC coverage we now have some very important and interesting documents related to the objects purchased from the same dealer held by the galleries.

We turn our attention to this Seated Jina Mount Abu region, Rajasthan, India

Seated Jina 1163 Sculpture, marble
55.8 h x 45.2 w x 23.1 d cm
Purchased 2003
Accession No: NGA 2003.478

128702

It is clear that the main Jina sculpture is not a perfect match for the Arch.

We now know thanks to the ” Due diligence report” which have now accessed, that it was indeed bought as two different pieces for USD 125,000 in December 2003.

jina_arch1
jina
jina2

The provenance provided:
” bought in Delhi by Sudanese diplomat Abdulla Mehgoub, between 1968 and 1971
with subhash Kapoor of Art of the Past, New York, from 2002 or before”

This was supported by

” Signed letter of provenance from Raj Mehgoub stating that the jina sculpture and arch were purchased in India between 1968 and 1971 by her husband Abdulla Mehgoub, dated 25th Match 2003.
- Expert opinion on the sculpture’s quality and authenticity written by Dr Vidya Dehejia
- Copy of a published article about the sculpture in Arts of Asia, vol 33, no. 6. 2003″

The Provenance is indeed very thin and flies out of the window - based on current information as explained in Chasing Aphrodite

Further the said ” Article” seems to be an Art of Past Advertisement .

advert

Further the same report continues :

“New provenance information found

A comparable jina was found in the sales catalogue for Christie’s sale number 9481 (18 October 2002), South Kensington, London. Close examination suggests that the NGA Jina is the same object sold at the Christie’s sale. The Christie’s catalogue description corresponds to the NGA Jina in terms of size and Materials and its image matches the NGA sculpture exactly.
…..

The details surrounding this, such as the consignor and purchaser, are ye to be confirmed. This information suggests the the provenance letter supplies by Art of the Past was fraudulent, but supports the possibility that the sculpture was legitimately acquired.(sic) It is also possible that the sculpture was purchased at the Christie’s sale by Raj Mehgoub, but this seems unlikely given other information about kapoor.”

Now it gets interesting. This is the Jina sold via Christie and is available through a simple ” google ” check. So you do not need to necessarily subscribe or buy any catalog to view this.

d3995408r

What is more interesting is that the JIna was listed at a base price of $ 1543 - $2315 and sold well above it but even then at a modest $ 6,889.

jina_christies

This was on 12th October 2002 and in our checks there is no comparable Jain marble sold or auctioned during that time. So we are puzzled how even with the addition of the Arch the price of the Jina appreciated from $6889 to $125000 and why the ” Due Diligence report” does not reveal this important little detail? Further being an accountant since the two are distinct pieces and are recorded as separate acquisitions wouldn’t the accounting show the individual amounts instead of lumped under one? If the price NGA paid was fair then was the Christies listing low due to lack of proper provenance? So did Kapoor’s fabricated fake provenance add the $$$$$$$$ ?

Further, from the tone of the report it is clear that despite mounting evidence the NGA plans to hold on to the artifact and hence we are requesting support from volunteers in Rajasthan to help share and forward this photograph and push local vernacular press to publish this photo and seek any information of the possible loot.

128702

The arch is also important as a simple check on main Jain sites in the Jaisalmer and Satrunjaya temples reveal very very similar styled marble arches and many have been recently repaired / replaced. Why were they repaired, do we have any records of loot / robbery etc.

331218167_73257e117c_z
Parsvanatha_Lodhruva
dsc04390

Unless we can find proof we have to continue to appeal to the Australian Government in good faith and mounting circumstantial evidence otherwise.

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