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Posts Tagged ‘Bronze’

Part 1 of this post exposed how the provenance for this fantastic bronze was erased and she was auctioned for a million dollars.

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We had seen the reference in the 1944 article Gauri, A Southern Bronze, By K. B. IYER - where he specifically mentions “One of such pieces is Gauri from the Kailasanath temple, Conjeeveram, now in the collection of Ramgopal, the well-known dancer.”

Today we bring forth more research into her origins - for a 1915 publication - Sri O.C. Ganguly’s South Indian Bronzes.

Here is the great man himself and a short bio

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Here are the references to the bronze from the book.

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description
plate ref

From the above it is clear that the Bronze was very much in the Kailasantha temple atleast till 1915 and inbetween 1915 n 1944 it somehow moved into the possession of famous dancer Sri Ram Gopal OBE and was with him at least till 1944.

This post may not provide any conclusive evidence to seek restitution of the bronze but atleast it gives her a past and a home town - The Gauri of the Kanchi Kailasantha Temple and not just ” A large and important bronze figure of Parvati”

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Today the hand of a master forger provides us a vital clue - and we hope the Norton Simon Museum will try help to disclose or close this case.

As we have seen in the earlier parts - part 1 and part 2 of this series, how two of the looted Sivapuram bronzes landed in the Norton Simon Museum - one was returned after much debate and fanfare while the other still remains in the Museum. That still leaves 4 more to be traced, for the original Indian police case file lists “Thirugnanasambandar, Pillaiar and two Amman” as missing.

The case files further reveal that “The trustees of the temple wanted to repair the idols and this work was entrusted to Ramasamy Sthapathy of Kumbakonam in the year June 1954. In the year 1956 Thilakar of Kuttalam and his brother Doss induced Ramasamy Sthapathy to part with the original Natarajar and 5 other idols and to substitute the same with fake idols. “

Sadly the 1963 book by P. R. Srinivasan doesn’t carry any of the photographs of the two Amman bronzes.

However, thanks to our research we now have the French Institute in Pondicherry archive when they visited the temple on 15th June 1956 and followed up with a visit on 16th Nov 1957. The fake Somaskanda which we featured part 2 of the expose, gave us a vital clue - the master forger had definitely tried his best to mirror the original.

So we did a quick study of the other bronzes from the Sivapuram study by the IFP and landed on this Tani amman. To remind our readers - by the time the IFP landed in Sivapuram the switch was already made and they photographed only the fakes !

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A comparison of the online archive of the Norton Simon Museum led us to this exhibit

Parvati, c. 1000
India: Tamil Nadu, 975-1025
Bronze
32-1/2 in. (82.6 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1972.10.S
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

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It is important to see the year of purchase - 1972, is the same year the Nataraja and the Somaskanda came to the Museum.

A side by side comparison reveals the handiwork of the faker - the overall resemblance is there for anyone to see.

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The thief maybe in his overconfidence did not go into the minutest of details - if you know how a bronze is cast, you will understand why - its almost impossible to make a perfect copy - especially in the ornamentation and more so to get the actual weathering patterns.

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We agree that this is not conclusive proof but given that the Nataraja and the Somaskanda have set a irrefutable pattern - it is now upto the Museum to come clear on this.

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