Three antique idols repatriated from Australia to be displayed

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) The Union Ministry of Culture will showcase at the National Museum here three of India’s antique idols which were illegally exported to Australia and brought back recently, it was announced on Monday.

A stone image of Buddha from Mathura region, a marble stele showing devotees of Buddha from Andhra Pradesh, and stone image of Pratyangira from Tamil Nadu were moved back to India on December 7 from Australia, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Except Pratyangira, other two antiques are presently kept at the Central Antiquities Collection, at the Purana Qila here.

The Pratyangira idol is a case property of the Tamil Nadu Police and will be handed over after the temporary display at the National Museum.

The National Gallery of Australia (NGA), which was in the possession of these antiquities, returned them in a repatriation ceremony to the Indian Ministry of Culture on September 19 at Canberra, Australia.

All three statues were found to be genuine, after a team from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) visited the NGA last year for inspection.

The Buddha image is carved in red sand stone, representing him in Abhay Mudra and belongs to the early Kushana period in the last quarter of the first century CE.

The marble stele depicting the worship of Buddhist symbols is a remarkable example of Andhra school of sculptural art and belongs to the third century CE, during the Satavahana regime.

The Pratyangira, the female aspect of Narsimha, a grey coloured granite stone image, dates back to the 13th century Chola art, and was under worship in Vriddhachalam temple near Chennai before it was stolen and smuggled away.

The government through its missions in various countries is monitoring the cases of illegally exported Indian antiquities and is making efforts for their repatriation.

During the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, the 10th century statue of Durga in her Mahishasurmardini avatar from Jammu and Kashmir, was returned to India.