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Religious figures returned

Sunday, June 18th, 2017
Director General of Department of Archaeology Bhesh Dahal with the stolen statues that were willed back to Nepal by US collector.

Director General of Department of Archaeology Bhesh Dahal with the stolen statuary that were willed back to Nepal by US collector.

For the first time in history, priceless religious objects stolen from Kathmandu Valley decades ago have been returned from the United States after a collector bequeathed the statuary back to Nepal in his will.

Leroy Allen Ehreinreich willed that the statues of Marbijaya Buddha, two figures of Amoghpas Lokeswar, Manjushree were handed over to the Department of Archaeology by the Customs Department on Sunday after the objects arrived in Kathmandu via courier from New York on 31 May.

The religious objects were stolen from Kathmandu while they were still being worshipped, but it hasn’t yet been determined from where and when they were taken away while still being worshipped by devotees. The oldest two of the bronze figures date back to the 15th century, while the other are from the 16th and 17th centuries.


The Department of Archaeology has said the stolen items will be temporarily placed at the National Archive while its permanent location is decided.

In 2013, four painted wood covers of palm-leaf manuscripts had been put up for auction to be sold at Christie’s on 19 March at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza. They were pulled out last week after objections from academics and specialists of Himalayan art.

Each of the four paintings was unmistakably identified as the property of the National Archive in Kathmandu, based on comparison with images in an inventory created by the Nepal German Manuscript Project in 1970.

In 2002, the image of a 200-year-old Dipankar Buddha which was stolen from a guthi in Patan was found in Austria, and returned to Nepal. The gilded copper mask of the Buddha was in the custody of a family in Nag Bahal when it was stolen. It resurfaced when a well-known Cologne-based art dealer, Gallery Peter Hardt, tried to sell it to the Ethnographic Museum in Vienna this week for an asking price of 200,000 Euros ($180,000).


Further coverage in Nepali Times of theft of religious objects from Nepal:

Lost and Found in Kathmandu

Back where they belong

Lost and found Buddha






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