Asia

US museum returns ancient Hindu god statue to Cambodia

  • 28 March 2016
  • From the section Asia
A Cambodian takes a picture of a Khmer statue on display during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 28 March 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The statue is still missing its head and other body parts

A US museum has returned to Cambodia an ancient statue of a Hindu god stolen from the South East Asian country.

Officials from the Denver Art Museum and the Cambodia government marked the handover in a ceremony in Phnom Penh.

Called the Torso of Rama, the headless sandstone statue dates back to the 10th Century and was taken from the Koh Ker temple during Cambodia's civil war.

The museum acquired it 30 years ago, and said it only realised it was looted after recent discussions with Cambodia.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The director of Denver Art Museum, Christoph Heinrich, and government officials draped jasmine garlands over the statue in the ceremony

"We are joyful with the torso of Rama returning home," government official Yim Nolson was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

But the 62-inch (158m) statue is still missing its head and other body parts and Cambodia is currently appealing to museums and art collectors to return the missing portions.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The back of the statue features a quiver behind its right shoulder

The Denver Art Museum said it had acquired the statue in 1986 from a New York gallery.

It had earlier told the Denver Post that it realised that the piece may have been stolen in 2013 when Cambodia identified it as one of several artworks taken from the country during the civil war in the 1970s.

It said it was contacted last year by the Cambodian government which provided additional facts that led to the statue's return.

In January a French museum returned a 7th Century Hindu statue head to Cambodia 130 years after it was taken.

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