September 27, 2010

India’s attempts to reclaim lost treasures

Posted at 9:32 pm in Similar cases

More coverage of the attempts by India to secure the return of various historic artefacts.

Little India

India Seeks Lost Treasures

India is seeking UNESCO support to retrieve priceless antiquities, such as the Peacock Throne and the Kohinoor, looted by foreign invaders.
Archaeological Survey of India Director General Gautam Sengupta says, “Information is that most of the precious antique items which we lost in raids, attacks or loots during foreign invasions in the pre-independence period are spread over museums, mostly in European countries.”

No information is available about Shah Jahan’s Peacock throne, inlaid with precious stones, including the Kohinoor diamond, which was plundered by Nader Shah and taken to Persia in 1739.

The Kohinoor, a 105-carat diamond, once the largest in the world, was ostensibly presented to Queen Victoria in 1849 by the son of the Maharaja of Lahore, although many historians argue it was plundered by British Governor General Lord Dalhousie. The diamond is now at the Tower of London.

Other sought treasures include:

The 2,000-year-old Amravati railings, which are limestone plaques from south-eastern India, depicting scenes from the life of Buddha, presently in the British Museum.

The Sultanganj Buddha, a 2.3m tall bronze statue, plundered by a British engineer in 1861 from North-east India, presently in the Birmingham city museum.

A marble Saraswati statue stolen from a temple at Bhojsala in central India and subsequently acquired by the British Museum in 1886.

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