Kapoor Files- Art of the Loot Part 2- Case of the Suthamalli Subramanya

In our continuing independent investigation of the loot of India’s cultural treasures, we have unraveled many startling truths and begin our expose on the Kapoor files. The objective of this series is not only to bring these shady deals to light, but also build awareness of the total apathy towards the loot of our cultural treasures – despite having the best minds in technology it is quite disgusting that we are being taken for a ride – not only is this day light robbery but the sale is also happening right in front of us – making a complete mockery of our regulatory watchdogs.

On one side are our religious moral police who seek new reasons to stall our genuine efforts to photo document our treasures and create a cultural database which will be an effective deterrent for these looters and their bosses. On the other side is the bureaucracy and red tape that fails to put in place effective curbs and instead disturb century old customs by dumping sacred bronzes into a central warehouse – without even ensuring adequate safeguards of tagging and cataloging them.

Back to the said case – We understand that the details of this case have been published on the Idol wing’s official website sometime in 2009. It is really sad that such an important case has been handled in such a fashion – Dancing Sambandar is titled Krishnan, Chandikeshwara is labelled as Murugan and Astra devar as Deepalakshmi ! So much for experts situated right in chennai who could have been called in to assist.

Thankfully there is also a pdf file which has better labels. But the size and quality of these images leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully someone ( French Institute Pondichery) has documented these sometime in the 1970’s that we atleast have something to fight our case !

For the record the authorities in the Institute have not shared any photos or images with me – since i am not attached to any academic institute, nor am i a Research Scholar nor am i doing any Phd studies affiliated to any institute. I have tried explaining that my aim is nobler than mere personal academic gain and my fight is to bring these cultural treasures back home – but for the past two months i am left with the shady / grainy photos on the web only.

Ever since we broke the news of the Vriddachalam Ardhanari loot we have analysed hundreds of photos both in our image database and on the net for clues. We are thankful for google without whom we would never have stumbled on this – the past catalogues of Kapoor’s gallery Art of the Past. We take up the Catalogue September 2009 for our investigation.

Of interest is item number 14.

The gallery has really put up some wonderful images of the bronze on its catalogue.



Now back to the pdf released by the Idol wing – notice the one marked in red at the bottom.

We could at best cull out this from the same for our study.

As you can see its a badly cropped image and tried our best to resize

It is very evident that we having fine bronze of Murugan / Subramanya with his characteristic attributes with us. It is not a Chola bronze but a Vijayanagara period creation ( as expertly advertised in the catalogue).

Are we talking of the same piece – one phtoographed insitu in the temple in Suthamalli and one in USA for the Art of the Past Catalogue.

Though the tradition of bronze crafting did deteriorate post the 12th C CE Chola period in terms of artistic and aesthetic beauty the basics were still the same. So you are still have the same basic process of manufacture via the lost wax and hence each bronze is indeed unique. I would like to bring your attention to some unique aspects of this particular work – the fashioning of the hands and in particular the way the thumb is fashioned is rather crude but comes to our rescue.


Moving to the ornamentation – the ear ornaments are pretty unique as well as the medallion on the chest.


Thus even with these low resolution images it is quite easy to prove the loot. The larger question remains as to where is this bronze currently. Has it been sold to some museum or art dealer or still in the Warehouse of the Art Gallery in America?

There is one more important clue that is going to help us by not being present !! Yes, there is a reason why the looters removed the deity from its base pedestal.

We shall see why and many more startling facts and revelations in the coming posts. 2 down – 26 more to go !!

6 thoughts on “Kapoor Files- Art of the Loot Part 2- Case of the Suthamalli Subramanya

  1. Vijay,
    I am with mixed feelings whether to commend you for these wonderful efforts or to mourn upon the state our country is currently in. With corruption at every step in our country, what more can we expect? I think our traditional, ‘umachi kanna kuthum’ was more effective to keep people in control than the useless modern concepts of knowledge.

  2. There is also another gang working. The renovation gang. They remove the mildly damaged moortis and keep a new one. The claim to drop the old moorti in river but instead move that out. Most of the stone moortis in the overseas collections have a mild damage. We need to check the replacement issues also

  3. Brilliant effort Vijay.

    Until 17th century our ancestors were leading the world and wondering how come someone with 200 years of effort completely swept our rich culture, wealth and knowledge and made us so corrupted!

  4. The need of the hour is for Culture and Sculpture to be taught in schools. Children need to be taught about the finer points of our heritage to get that ‘national pride’ about our past. They will grow up more vigilant.
    Entire generations, most of our generation, and that of our fathers, have grown up ignorant. With age, we have also become cynical and (sadly) corrupt.
    I am glad you are doing so much to bring about an awareness in this corrupt society.

  5. your effort is really laudable. People should be made aware of not the money value of such treasures, but the heritage value of these. Money cannot replace that. We should catch the children young, to create awareness in them in the area, and also to keep away from vandalism.We have lots to do in the field.

  6. Dear,

    I really astonished to see the work which you have done for our treasures. I definetely take steps to publish your links in all my social media to make every one aware of our lost treasure,

    By god grace, one day definetely we will workship our god in our own place.

    Jaihind.

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