US museum returns Hanuman statue to Cambodia

A 10th-century statue, the Crouching Hanuman that had been in possession of Cleveland Museum of Art since 1982 has been returned to Cambodia.

US museum returns Hanuman statue to Cambodia

World Bulletin / News Desk

A statue depicting the Hindu monkey god Hanuman has been returned to Cambodia, bringing to four the number of statues looted from the Koh Ker temple complex that have been brought back to their country of origin after years abroad.

The pre-Angkorian statue, joins three other statues—named Balarama, Duryodhana and Bhima—which formed part of a mythic battle scene from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata at the complex’s Prasat Chan temple.

Although it did not appear in the scene, like those, the Hanuman was hacked from its plinth in the restive 1970s, when Cambodia was embroiled in a civil war.

Last June, the Bhima was returned by the California-based Norton Simon Museum, which had acquired it from a New York art dealer in 1976. Auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s separately returned the Duryodhana and Balarama statues, respectively.

The crouching Hanuman statue, whose legs were partly cut off when it was looted, had been in the possession of the Cleveland Museum of Art since 1982.

The Cambodia Daily on Monday quoted Kong Vireak, director of the National Museum in Phnom Penh, as saying that the statue would be handed over to the museum that same day.

The provenance of the statue had been called into question when the museum in Cleveland sent an expert to assess the Koh Ker site.

That expert said last year that she could find no evidence of an origin plinth from which the Hanuman had been hacked.

However, UNESCO’s Cambodia chief, Anne Lemaistre, told the Daily that more plinths were uncovered last year and that the Hanuman had originally come from one of those when it was created in the 10th century.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Mayıs 2015, 17:09