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.
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.
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.
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.
The rest was academic
Further research and another helpful friend sent us the Art of the Past catalogue 2006 with the actual advertisement.
The Bronze was acquired in 2007 as per the Museum Label.
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.