We are revealing today an important clue that expands the scope of this investigation and provides possible leads to a larger loot. It was widely reported in the press on the seizure of the Chandikeshwara bronze ” The image of Chandikeshwara (a form of Siva) in a standing posture has a strong similarity to the picture of the idol of the Sundareswara temple in Ariyalur, available with the French Institute of Pondicherry”
The photos of the seized bronzes were also publised
However, we have now done a detailed study of the archive photo from the institute and can now confidently say that they are defintely not the same. Below is the analysis.
The Ornamentation, styles are analysed in depth below
So the larger question now is two fold.
Where is the Suthamalli Chandikeshwara ?
and more importantly how do we find this new looted temple from where this new Chandikeswara seized by ICE hails from ?
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India’s watershed elections are done and there has been a sweep for what is considered to be the right wing Hindutva “faction”. While the Economy might be the first item on the new government’s list of things to do, on the art front and safeguarding of India’s National cultural treasures and their recovery needs to find an immediate spot. This again doesnt need to be a Hindu Agenda for the loot sans religious borders - from the Buddha in Nagapattinam, to the Jina of Rajasthan are equally as important as the Chola Nataraja.. While galleries are burdened with the fall out of the loot , the scant documentation adds to the inertia of the men who are ordained to be custodians of our Art.
Recently CBS News aired this clip with footage of the live raid of Kapoor’s storage facility in queens.
“A CBS News crew was with HIS agents in March when they followed an informant’s tip and searched a storage facility in the New York City borough of Queens. They found hundreds of items worth an estimated $8 million.
The items were allegedly stolen by Indian dealer Subhash Kapoor, a man international authorities say has been smuggling artifacts for decades. He is currently on trial after pleading not guilty to looting and smuggling charges.”
The screengrabs and the article url threw up an interesting sculpture.
It is a visual match of this theft from Sri Kirit Mankodi’s site
” The temple of Vishnu’s Boar incarnation at Kari Talai is a large complex of the eleventh century, under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Nine sculptures were stolen from this remote site during the night of 16/17 August 2006. They are a Vishnu Torso, a Divine Couple, Ganesha, Amorous Princely Couples and Apsaras………………The sculptures were stolen from a centrally protected site. ASI has records of all these sculptures……….”
The scale of this loot is truly mind blowing and unless concrete action is initiated by the Indian Government it would be left to such scant spotting to identify the loot - let alone bring them back ! However, we are happy that there are a few kindred souls like Sri Mankodi who continue to champion the yet not lost cause.
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