Modi to bring home bronze Nataraj, terracotta figurines among 157 artefacts

The 157 items will be sent to their original locations after the PMO hands it over to the ASI.

According to the government, the Modi government, between 2014 and 2021 has effected the return of 200 stolen artefacts from abroad. Photo: ANI/Twitter

A 12th century bronze Nataraj statue, a 1.5 metre bas-relief panel of Revanta in sandstone hailing from the 10th century, 56 terracotta pieces and several bronze figurines are among 157 lost artefacts and antiquities that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will bring home on his return from the US.

During his interaction with Modi, United States President Joe Biden expressed his government’s commitment to prevent any illicit trade and trafficking of cultural items from India.

At least 71 pieces of the artefacts are cultural, while the rest are figures related to Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16), and Jainism (9), the government said in an official statement. Most of them hail from periods between 11th and 14th centuries.

“The items largely belong to 11th-14th CE & historic antiquities like copper anthropomorphic object of 2000 BC or terracotta vase from 2nd CE. Some 45 antiquities belong to Before Common Era. Half of artifacts are cultural, other half are figurines relating to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism,” ANI reported.


Also read: PM wraps up whirlwind US visit: Here’s what Modi said/did in a nutshell

Apart from motifs of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, the sculptures also have secular motifs and include those of an “amorphous couple in Samabhanga, Chowri Bearer and a female playing the drum” among others.

The artefacts are made in metal, stone and terracotta. The bronze collection includes ornate figurines like that of Lakshmi Narayana, Buddha, Vishnu, Siva Parvati, 24 Jain Tirthankar, Kankalamurti as well as Brahmi and Nandikesa among other unnamed religious deities.

Among the 56 terracotta pieces are a vase from the 2nd century, a pair of deer from the 12th century and a bust of a woman from the 14th century.

The artefacts also include an 18th century sword in sheath with inscription on Guru Hargovind Singh engraved on its surface in Persian.

According to reports, an Archeological Survey of India (ASI) team during a visit to New York in 2019, had identified more than 100 artefacts that were seized in the US and named as “original Indian antiquities of tremendous value”. These antiquities were said to be stolen over the years from temples in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

“We have identified about 100 antique objects, including idols dating to the Gupta period (5-6th century AD) and terracotta objects of Harappan culture,” Indian Express quoted ASI ADG, Archaeology Urmila Sant as saying. Sant was part of the team which visited the US on the direction of the office of the Consulate General of India.  According to Sant, 17 artefacts were seized by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, from the possession of art smuggler Subhash Kapoor.

Also read: India-US ‘natural partners,’ PM Modi tells US Vice President Kamala Harris

According to the government, while 13 antiquities were brought back to India from other countries between 1976 and 2013, the Modi government, between 2014 and 2021 has effected the return of 200 artefacts. Some of them have already come home, while others are in the process of being returned.

The 157 items will be sent to their original locations after the PMO hands it over to the ASI.