Thursday 17 April 2014
News updated at 10:14 AM IST
Weather
Max: 34.6°C
Min : 22.4°C
In Bangalore
Sunny day

10th-century Yogini sculpture returns to India

Anirban Bhaumik, NEW DELHI, Sep 18, 2013 DHNS:
The stolen sculpture from an  ancient temple was traced to France.

An 1,100-year-old priceless sculpture has returned to India, years after it was stolen from an ancient temple in Uttar Pradesh and was smuggled to France.

The exquisite 10th-century stone sculpture of “Vrishanana Yogini” was stolen from an unprotected ancient temple at the Lokhari village in the Banda district of UP, and found its way to France. It has now come back to be a prized possession of the National Museum in Delhi, thanks to the family of late French art collector Robert Schrimpf, who had acquired it after it reached France.

Schrimpf’s widow Martine donated the sculpture of the goddess with a buffalo-shaped head to the Embassy of India in Paris in 2008. The Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture worked together to finally get it back to India last month.


Though many stolen sculptures and other cultural properties, often smuggled out of the country, were subsequently traced in the US, Australia and Europe, most of them could not be repatriated, primarily due to legal obstacles. What has made the return of the Vrishanana Yogini significant is that the sculpture could be brought back without much hassle after it was donated by Schrimpf's widow.


“Three things went in our favour: We established its authenticity on the basis of the book Yogini: Cult and Temples – A Tantric Tradition brought out by the museum in 1986, which carried its picture; the widow of the French art collector couldn’t confirm the source of its acquisition; and the art collector’s donation letter was executed through an attorney,” said J E Dawson, Curator (Archaeology) of the National Museum, who had to go to Paris to make a foolproof case for the return of the sculpture, weighing 400 kg.

The National Museum is celebrating this “homecoming” with a special exhibition, to be jointly inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumar Katoch, on September 19.


“The return of Vrishanana Yogini is a triumph of the country’s sustained efforts to get back its stolen antiquities,” said National Museum Institute Dean Anupa Pande.


“A major objective of the exhibition is to increase awareness about the fascinating history of the Yoginis and the elaborate rituals of their worship.

More importantly, it aims to bring into spotlight the disturbing reality of the continued illicit trafficking of India’s priceless cultural artefacts to international markets,” said National Museum director general Venu V.


The Yogini cult developed between sixth and 10th centuries, rooted in sacred texts like Skanda Purana, Agni Purana, Kaulajnananirnaya and in lists called Yogininamavalis.
 The Yoginis — a group of powerful female divinities, a blend of the divine and demonic — were worshipped in totality of 64 or 81, seldom individually.


Yogini temples are located in isolated areas and have been easy targets of antique smugglers. Yogini sculptures from Kanchipuram are now found in leading museums across the world.

“The return of the Vrishanana Yogini, in this context, is significant,” said Venu.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
An anti-government protester with her face painted in the colors of Venezuela's flag with the...

An anti-government protester with her face painted in the colors of Venezuela's flag with the...

Rescue boats sail around the South Korean passenger ship 'Sewol' which sank, during their rescue...

Rescue boats sail around the South Korean passenger ship 'Sewol' which sank, during their rescue...

A masked penitent takes part in the procession of the 'Santa Veracruz'' brotherhood, during Holy...

A masked penitent takes part in the procession of the 'Santa Veracruz'' brotherhood, during Holy...

Printer Jose Lomeli holds newspaper printing plates for the first copies of the inaugural Los...

Printer Jose Lomeli holds newspaper printing plates for the first copies of the inaugural Los...

A city worker helps clear away debris caused by recent earthquakes in Nagarote, Nicaragua...

A city worker helps clear away debris caused by recent earthquakes in Nagarote, Nicaragua...

A search worker uses a dog to help look through a pile of debris, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at...

A search worker uses a dog to help look through a pile of debris, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at...

Catherine (L), Duchess of Cambridge, waves to residents as she walks with local official Miranda...

Catherine (L), Duchess of Cambridge, waves to residents as she walks with local official Miranda...

A green sea turtle lies inside a container after being treated for injuries at the University at...

A green sea turtle lies inside a container after being treated for injuries at the University at...

A three-month-old Bengal white tiger cub is seen inside its enclosure at the Buenos Aires' Zoo...

A three-month-old Bengal white tiger cub is seen inside its enclosure at the Buenos Aires' Zoo...

An Alfa Romeo 4C is pictured at a media event at the Jacob Javits Convention Center during the...

An Alfa Romeo 4C is pictured at a media event at the Jacob Javits Convention Center during the...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bangalore - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523