Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday returned to India with about 157 artifacts and antiquities stolen and smuggled out of the country on completion of his 3-day long ‘successful’ visit to the United States.
The artifacts and antiquities were handed over to Prime Minister Modi by the US president Joe Biden following a long process of identification and authentication being carried out by India’s Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) preceding their final hand over.
The artifacts and antiquities which were mostly stolen from Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh date back to 11th and 14th century, 2000 BC and 2nd CE will be sent back to the respective states from where they disappeared under the supervision of ASI once they are handed over by the Prime Minister Office to ASI.
Earlier, while in the United States after the handing over of the artifacts and antiquities both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Joe Biden had expressed their resolve to work against the menace of trafficking of objects of cultural importance, theft and illicit trade.
The artifacts and antiquities brought back by the Prime Minister hold immense historical and archaeological importance for India. As per initial details of the 157 artifacts and antiquities, about 71 have cultural significance, 60 linked to Hinduism, 16 to Buddhism and 9 are linked to Jainism. The majority of these precious items reportedly date back to the 11th and14th century.
The list of artifacts and antiquities comprises of a 1.5-metre bas-relief panel of Revanta in sandstone made in the 10th century, an 8.5 cm tall bronze Nataraj figure from the 12th century, 56 terracotta pieces, several bronze figurines and copper objects besides other items of significance.
Besides figurines of Lakshmi Narayana, Buddha, Vishnu, Siva Parvathi, Kankalamurti, Brahmi and Nandikesa etc, the list of artifacts and antiquities also include figurines of unnamed deities. These artifacts are made up of various types of metal, stone and terracotta.
Among the prominent antiques linked to Hinduism are Three-headed Brahma, Chariot Driving Surya, Vishnu and his Consorts, Siva as Dakshinamurti and Dancing Ganesha. Buddha, Boddhisattva Manjushri, Tara, and Jain Tirthankara, Padmasana Tirthankara, Jaina Choubisi etc and 18th-century sword inscribed with Sikh Guru Hargobind Das in Persian also form part of objects returned to India.