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Posts Tagged ‘Museum’

Australia returned two Iconic artifacts to India over the weekend and it is really satisfying for us - we strongly believe that the Gods have chosen to return back to their abodes and this is only the start - many more WILL come back.

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What were returned were already forfeit to India as of April 2014 ! There are dozens of stolen art with false provenance still left in Australia waiting for proof from our side

The Vridhachalam Ardhanari and the Sripuranthan Nataraja are only tip of the Ice berg and its time Museums realise this - in today’s connected world and global collaborative research, they cannot hide behind technicalities.

Lots of friends ask us how they can help us in our efforts to bring back our ancestral treasures.

Here is one such example. Soon after we published the details of the Vriddhachalam story , the press and media caught on - interview for Radio Australia - ABC , The Australian , The Hindu , Hindu 2 - published our story.

A special friend on Social Media, a American national deeply interested in Indian Art contacted us and volunteered to provide assistance. A courier pouch landed in end june 2013 containing paper cuttings of - Art of the Past advertisements in various Magazines and Journals collected over the last 10-12 years !! One particular advertisement stood out.

art of the past advertisement

How could i forget her - i had been there when she was first exhibited as pride of show - in 2006. Infact i had a painting of her framed in my room !!

I checked the Idol wing website immediately. The 3rd one was possible match but the proportions were all wrong.

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A little bit of checking made us realise that some rookie programmer had reduced the size of the bronze to fit the pdf file without ensuring it shrank in proportion. The correct view was this one.

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The rest was academic

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Further research and another helpful friend sent us the Art of the Past catalogue 2006 with the actual advertisement.

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The Bronze was acquired in 2007 as per the Museum Label.

provenance 2007

We got in touch with the Museum and authorities in India mid of July and as usual met with a stone wall.

Finally things got to head when Kapoor’s Gallery assistant pleaded guilty in US court in early December 2013.


“During the period from on or about January 2005 to November 2006, one Uma Parameshvari (known at the “$650,000 Uma for Singapore”), owned by the Central Government of India, was stolen from the Sivan Temple in India’s Ariyalur District. During the period January 2006 to on or about January 2007, defendant and other co-conspirators shipped the $650,000 Uma for Singapore, from India to the United States. On or about February 2007, defendant and other co-conspirators arranged for the sale and transport of the $650,000 Uma to the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.”

The Uma has since been removed from display and in May we reported that the entire list of objects that the ACM purchased from the dealer.

The defense of Museums worldover when faced with this scenario seems to be following the same rule books - Ignore, stone wall, delay etc etc. To add insult to injury see this stance taken by an Art Consultant

” Art consultant ————– suggests that there may also be alternatives to repatriation, even if an artefact is found to have been illegally removed.

She says: “Sometimes, the lawful owners of the artefacts do not have the resources to build climate-controlled environments, to conserve and restore old artefacts, to present exhibitions that attract large visitorships, or to fund scholarship on these artifacts.

“In this context, I would say that it should be an option for the museum to discuss having the artefacts stay on in a loan arrangement and perhaps to present these works jointly in public exhibitions or publications.”
- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/case-you-missed-it/story/sniffing-out-booty-20140214#2″

I am sure India has enough and more resources to take good care of its Gods and in the first place our Gods do not need climate controlled environments - our ancestors built temples as their abodes and they have lived there happily for thousand years until the greed of the greenback led a few astray souls to housebreak and rob them.

Its time Singapore follows the Australia model and returns the Uma. It is also pertinent that the ACM should be open and disclose the provenance of this Somaskanda as well - as of now they maintain that it is not bought from Kapoor / Art of the Past - its was bought in 2000 and in not disclosing the provenance it is hiding the identify of one more dealer / smuggler.

acm somaskanda

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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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