Khmer statues returned to Cambodia

2014-06-03 22:00
A 10th century Cambodian sandstone statue displayed after returning from the United States during a handover ceremony at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Heng Sinith, AP)

A 10th century Cambodian sandstone statue displayed after returning from the United States during a handover ceremony at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Heng Sinith, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Phnom Penh - Cambodia on Tuesday officially welcomed the return of three ancient statues looted from the kingdom more than 40 years ago, including one retrieved after a long legal battle in the United States.

Authorities say the 10th-century sandstone artworks were stolen in the 1970s as the country was gripped by civil war, from the Koh Ker temple site near the famed Angkor Wat complex.

The statues, part of a nine-strong ensemble, depict warriors "Duryodhana" and "Bhima" locked in combat - as well as a bystander called "Balarama".

They were recently returned from the US and are considered pieces of extraordinary value to the Cambodian people and part of their cultural heritage.

"In a long 40-year journey, surviving civil wars, looting, smuggling and travelling the world, these three [statues] have now regained their freedom and returned home," Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said in remarks during a homecoming ceremony.

"The facts are now established. Their odyssey ends here. These precious symbols of our heritage have returned to their rightful owners," he said.

Sok An said Cambodia would continue to search for three more statues from the Koh Ker site that remain missing.

The statue of Duryodhana was stolen in 1972 and first sold at auction in London in 1975.

It was nearly auctioned again at Sotheby's in New York in March 2011 but the sale was stopped after Cambodian authorities launched an appeal through UNESCO.

The 1.58m statue was eventually transferred to the Cambodian government in early May after a long legal struggle.

Gift

The second warrior statue, Bhima, was bought in 1976 by the Norton Simon Museum in California.

After months of discussions, the US museum agreed to return its statue as a "gift" to Cambodia last month.

Balarama was returned as part of an agreement between the Cambodian government and Christie's auction house in the US, according to the Cambodian government.

"These are beautiful works of art... they also have something to say. They tell a story," said Martin Wilson, a representative from Christie's who attended Tuesday's ceremony.

The repatriation of the three statues follows the return in June last year of two other Khmer 10th century statues known as the "Kneeling Attendants" which Cambodia says were also looted in the 1970s from the Koh Ker temple site.

They were on show for 20 years at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Read more on:    us  |  cambodia  |  artefacts

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.