The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that it will return a 10th century Shiva Hindu sculpture to Nepal after finding gaps in the provenance documents.
The 13-inch sculpture depicts the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, alongside two attendants. Investigations revealed that the sculpture was once located at the Kankeshwari Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal. After being looted in the 1960s, it was acquired by a private collector who donated it to the museum in 1995.
Speaking of the repatriation, the museum said:
“The museum is committed to the responsible acquisition of archaeological art, and applies rigorous provenance standards both to new acquisitions and the study of works long in its collection.”
This is the third object that the Met has returned to Nepal so far. Earlier, the museum had repatriated a 12th-century stele that depicted Shiva and Parvati, as well as a 10th-century sculpture of Buddha – both in 2018. It must be noted that the Met has a collection of some 200 objects originating from Nepal. The country has also been receiving the return of artifacts from other institutions as well. The Denver Art Museum returned a 10th-century statue earlier this month, while the Dallas Museum of Art returned a looted statue of Lakshmi-Narayana in March.
While the repatriation of the object is a good sign, it is clear that a lot more has to be done. It is speculated that since Nepal opened its borders to international travelers in 1951, a lot of historical artworks have been stolen and smuggled to the international market. Last week, two ancient sculptures (assumed to be looted as well) were tracked to the Rubin Museum of Art in New York.