Wednesday, 2 April 2014
PARIS (FRANCE), APR 02 - Among various stolen artifacts bearing historical and cultural significance of the country, two statues dating back to 12th and 13th centuries have been gathering dust at museums in Paris . And although two decades have passed since the government of France realised the statues were stolen and approached Nepali authorities with an intention to return them, the government of Nepal has yet to take significant steps to retrieve the artifacts. Of the two statues, the 12th century stone statue of Lord Vishnu standing between goddess Laxmi and Garuda was reportedly stolen from Chyasalhiti, Patan towards the end of 1970s, while the 13th century statue of Shiva-Uma perched atop Kailash Parbat was stolen from Nasamna Tole, Bhaktapur on the night of May 23, 1984.
Both statues have been gathering dust at the storage facility in Musée Guimet museum in Paris . The museum had removed the statues from public display after receiving proofs from historian, Late Lain Singh Bangdel who spotted the statues while on a trip toParis , that the statues were stolen.
“We have been ready to return the statues ever since we were informed that the statues were stolen,” said chief curator of the Nepal-Tibet section at the museum, Natalie Bazin. The Department of Archaeology in Nepal had forwarded a letter requesting the return of the statues in 2000. However, as there were certain official procedures to be followed, Bazin believed that the Nepal government could not prioritise the matter due to political turmoil.
However, refuting the claims made by the museum, Ambassador to France Mohan Krishna Shrestha said they did not have any knowledge about what happened earlier but now that the museum had made its intentions clear, they were waiting for an official letter of intent from the museum to speed up the process to return the statues home.

Meanwhile, the museum has stated its plans to return the statues after organising a grand exhibition displaying artifacts related to Nepal in 2016, which coincides with the 50-year anniversary since the first exhibition of Nepali artifacts was held in Paris during the visit of the Late King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah. Bazin reasoned that as the statues had been on display in the museum since decades, it was essential for the French to know why they were being returned.

Posted on: 2014-04-02 08:36 
Kantipur Daily

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