April 18, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Historical idols stolen from Nepal lie in foreign museums 

The Nepal Weekly
February 20, 2024

According to the Department of Archaeology, 96 idols and historical items have been found in museums of different countries of different periods. Those historical sculptures and artefacts reached foreign museums at different times through theft and smuggling from Nepal. According to the department, currently 24 statues and historical objects have reached Britain. Similarly, 16 in France, 6 in America, 1 in Singapore, 31 in Sweden, 2 in Australia, 1 in China and 15 in Switzerland historical item could not be returned. After verifying the loss of these items, the department has also sent its file to the embassy of the respective country. 

According to the department’s research, most of the theft and smuggling of idols and historical items from Nepal took place in the 1950s to 1990s. However, the department is also clueless as to who took it there and how. Nepalese who have visited foreign museums, local residents of heritage areas, heritage lovers, heritage experts etc. have informed the department about missing or stolen statues and historical items. 

According to the department, since 1986, the process of returning the missing archaeological and artistic objects from Nepal started. So far, 145 statues and artistic objects have been returned to Nepal from countries such as Britain, Australia, America, China, India, Germany, and Italy. Out of this, 72 sculptures and art objects have been returned from America alone. 

Currently, among the statues and historical objects that have reached different places abroad, the most important is the Kanthehar of the Taleju Temple in Hanumandhoka. This historic object is currently in the Art Institute of Chicago, USA. Another historical object in the Zhandu Gallery of America is the statue of Ganesha in the Kalbhairava temple in Kirtipur. A historical Buddha statue has also arrived at Christie’s Auction House in America. A wooden statue of Nritya Devi is also in the Metropolitan Museum of America. France’s Bonhams auction has reached the museum’s most historic items. Five pylons of the Taleju temple of Patan have reached here. Two wooden trunks have also arrived at Bonhams. Shakyamuni Buddha statue of Dolpa is in China. Pharping’s statue of Agareshwar (Neelbarahi) is in Singapore. The statues of Chaturmaharaj and Vasudev Kamalaja (Laxminarayan) were stolen and brought to Australia. The statue of Ummaheshwar, which was stolen from Nepal and stolen from Thaphiti in Patan, has reached the British Museum in Britain. 14 historical items including the statue of Umamaheshwar located in the Bhaktapur Darbar area have reached Switzerland. 

Although the department has traced the idols and artistic materials wherever they have gone, it has not been easy to return them. The department is trying to prove that the antiquities have arrived and bring them to Nepal. However, the department says that the body keeping the statue, which was stolen and smuggled from Nepal, has neglected to return them.