In a significant boost to the process of retrieval of squandered Indian heritage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to bring home from the US 157 artefacts and antiquities.
These treasures were handed over by the United States to Prime Minister Modi during his visit with the PM conveying his deep appreciation for the repatriation of Indian cultural heritage.
PM Modi and US President Joe Biden during their meeting committed to strengthen efforts to combat the theft, illicit trade and trafficking of cultural objects.
The list of 157 artefacts includes a diverse set to items ranging from a one-and-a-half metre bas relief panel of Revanta in sandstone dating back to the 10th Common Era to a 8.5cm tall, exquisite bronze Nataraja from the 12th CE.
Government sources said the items largely belonged to the period of 11th CE to 14th CE and the collection featured historic antiquities such as the copper anthropomorphic object of 2000 BC and the terracotta vase from the 2nd CE.
Some 45 antiquities belong to Before Common Era, a government statement said.
While half of the artifacts (71) are cultural, the other half consists of figurines which relate to Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16) and Jainism (9).
Their make spreads across metal, stone and terracotta.
The bronze collection primarily contains ornate figurines of the well-known postures of Lakshmi Narayana, Buddha, Vishnu, Siva Parvathi and the 24 Jain Tirthankaras and the less common Kankalamurti, Brahmi and Nandikesa besides other unnamed deities and divine figures.
The murtis include religious sculptures from Hinduism (Three headed Brahma, Chariot Driving Surya, Vishnu and his Consorts, Siva as Dakshinamurti, Dancing Ganesha), Buddhism (Standing Buddha, Boddhisattva Majushri, Tara) and Jainism (Jain Tirthankara, Padmasana Tirthankara, Jaina Choubisi) as well as secular murtis (Amorphous couple in Samabhanga, Chowri Bearer, a female playing a drum).
There are 56 terracotta pieces (Vase 2nd CE, Pair of Deer 12th CE, Bust of Female 14th CE) and an 18th CE sword with sheath with inscription mentioning Guru Hargobind Singh in Persian, the government said.
Between 2004 and 2014, one ancient antiquity returned to India.
From 2014 to 2021, over 200 antiquities have either returned or are in the process of being returned!
Also, government data show that between 1976 and 2013, only 13 such antiquities had been returned.
Stolen antiquities are being retrieved from USA, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Canada and England, where about 119 antiquities are in different stages of the process of retrieval.
Recently, the National Gallery of Australia in July 2021 announced its plans to return $2.2 million of stolen artworks to India.
These antiquities had been stolen from almost every region of India, such as Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Bihar.