Ancient statue of Goddess Durga repatriated to Vietnam


The ancient statue of Vietnamese origin is 191cm long and weighs 101kg. VNA/VNS

HANOI: An ancient bronze statue of the Goddess Durga that was illegally sold abroad has been returned to Vietnam and is now being preserved at the National History Museum, reported the Department of Cultural Heritage.

The four-armed bronze statue is an ancient cultural artefact originating from Vietnam, with a symbolic value of more than 14 million pounds (US$18 million). It is a large-scale statue, measuring 191cm in length and weighing 101kg, that depicts the image of the Hindu Goddess Durga.

The statue reflects the culture, religious beliefs, and history of the Champa community, showing the diversity of Vietnamese ethnic groups.

Along with enriching the country's collection of Vietnamese cultural and historical artefacts, the statue's homecoming also shows that the antiquities repatriation policy works to prevent the loss of cultural property and heritage.

The repatriation of the statue, which was illegally trafficked into the US, is a result of cooperation between Vietnam, the US and the UK.

It is also an outcome of Vietnam’s efforts to implement the commitments of the 1970 Unesco Convention on measures to prohibit the illegal export, import and transfer of ownership of cultural property.

Earlier in August 2023, the Vietnamese Embassy in the US informed the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) about the discovery of a four-armed statue of the Goddess Durga that was recovered in London during an investigation into illegal antiquities trafficking.

The MCST's relevant units found that the bronze statue of the goddess bears the distinctive characteristics of sculptures and art from the early Champa period (7th century), with influences from the late-period sculpting art of the Oc Eo culture (1st-7th century).

Per its responsibilities under the Cultural Heritage Law, the MCST officially confirmed with the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK that the statue was of Vietnamese origin.

The Vietnamese Embassy, representing the MCST, received the artefact from the US Department of Homeland Security and the London Metropolitan Police.

In January, a delegation from the MCST visited the UK to assess the current status of the bronze Durga statue, prepare the necessary paperwork for the handover and pack the artefact for its repatriation to Vietnam.

After the visit, Arts Council England granted permission to the Vietnam National Museum of History to bring the bronze statue back to Vietnam.

The Goddess Durga was sent back to Vietnam on June 18. It is being preserved at the National Museum of History in Hanoi for research and exhibition. - Vietnam News/ANN

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