Wednesday, October 5, 2022

10 antiques from Tamil Nadu temples restituted | Chennai News

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CHENNAI: Restitution of 10 stolen idols belonging to temples in Tamil Nadu, a result of the work of complex investigations by citizen activist group, The Pride India Project, took place in New Delhi, on Wednesday.
The 10 idols which had been smuggled from Tamil Nadu, mainly by notorious antiquity trafficker Subash Kapoor, belong to the 10th century AD to 12th century AD. They were brought back from museums in the USA and Australia and were handed over to the authorities at an event held in New Delhi on Wednesday, nearly a year-and-a-half after being brought back.
Among the antiques is a chola-era bronze, belonging to the mid-10th century CE, depicting four-armed dancing Punnainallur Natarajar idols. The left leg of the idol is seen thrown across the body, and the idol is seen holding a flame in the left arm and damaru in the right. It was stolen in 1971.
The fact that the temple committee had filed an FIR the same year and the availability of a photograph of the original idol made it possible for authorities to recover it. A museum in the USA had first tried to give a replacement and closed the case as non-traceable. But it was later traced to a museum in New York in 2018. The museum wanted to know if it was going back into worship.
S Vijayakumar, co-founder of Pride of India Project, which helped in tracing the idols, said the Natarajar idol was the `Utasavar moorthy’ of the temple, and the temple committee and the people of Punnainallur are awaiting for the Tamil Nadu government to give it back to the temple so that it could be kept in the Kailasanathar temple in the village. “It is our ardent wish that the idol be sent for active worship after 51 years, to the temple,’’ he said. This temple now has a strongroom and CCTV cameras to help protect the idol.
Similar is the case of the chola-era Alingana Murthy (Shiva embracing Parvathi), belonging to the 12th century CE. “I first voiced doubts on Ball State Museum’s acquisition of the bronze in 2017 after noticing that the bronze has a Tamil pedestal inscription that read ‘Dipambalpurathu Sivigai Nayagar’,” said Vijayakumar.
There are two statues of Sambandar, a standing Sambandar and dancing Sambandar. The standing Sambandar was documented by the French Institute in Puducherry as belonging to the Sayavanam temple in 1960.
Two intricately designed granite door guardians, which had been purchased by the National Gallery of Australia for AUD 4,65,000 from Subash Kapoor have also been brought back. A bronze, dancing child-saint Sambandar, which had been purchased by Australia for AUD 7,65,000 is the only idol whose origin has not been traced.
Others include a bronze belonging to the 11th century CE of Shiva from Kankalamurti, Kadayam. The idol is seen holding a trishul and damaru in the upper arms. The lower arms stretch towards a jumping dog. There is a dwarf with a bowl on its head on the left. There is a four-armed Lord Vishnu, belonging to the 11th century CE and Nadikeswara Kadayam, also belonging to the same period, all of which are profusely ornamented.





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