French collector's wife returns 'missing' sculpture - The New Indian Express

French collector's wife returns 'missing' sculpture

Published: 18th September 2013 09:54 AM

Last Updated: 18th September 2013 09:54 AM

A nearly thousand-year-old stolen Indian statue, which had mysteriously surfaced in a Paris art collection recently, has been returned by the collector’s wife and will now be showcased in the National Museum.

Known as ‘Yogini Vrishanana,’ the statue weighing about 400 kg, was stolen from a temple at Lokhari village, located in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. It is however, not known, when the statue was stolen from the temple, but it was acquired by a Paris-based art collector Robert Schrimpf.

After his death, his wife, Martine Schrimpf approached the Indian Embassy in Paris with the request to donate the priceless sculpture, earlier this year.

Immediately, Embassy officials went into top gear and contacted the Ministry of Culture. A National Museum official was dispatched to Paris, who established the authenticity of the statue. The French Government also displayed great alacrity in clearing all hurdles in its return to India and it was brought back last month.

According to official sources, the authenticity was established on the basis of its listing in the book Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantric Tradition.

The book, published in 1986 by the National Museum, was written by well-known Indian art scholar Vidya Dehejia who was awarded the Padma Bhushan last year.

Apparently, the Lokhari temple was identified as an important historical site after the discovery of Yogini sculptures, but had remained unprotected. The Yoginis are described as a group of powerful female divinities.

To mark the statue’s  ‘homecoming,’ External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch will inaugurate an exhibition ‘Return of the Yogini’ at the National Museum’s Ajanta Hall on Thursday.

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