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Made in India Magazine | October 27, 2020

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Dancing Shiva Returns Home from Australia

Dancing Shiva Returns Home from Australia

| On 11, Oct 2019

The Art Gallery of South Australia has repatriated the bronze statue of dancing Shiva that was allegedly burgled from a temple in India. The 600-year-old statue of Dancing Shiva was returned after about five years after rigorous questions as regards the origin of the statue was raised.

According to a news report, the 600-year-old statue of Dancing Shiva was handed over by some officials of the Art Gallery of South Australia last week to the Indian authorities in Adelaide. The Art Gallery of South Australia told SBS Hindi: “having worked collaboratively and closely with the Archeological Survey of India and the Indian High Commission, the Art Gallery of South Australia has effectively returned the Dancing Siva statue to the Indian government on September 2019.”

The bronze statue of Dancing Shiva kept in the Art Gallery of South Australia had been linked by Indian officials to an Indian temple in the ancient city of Nellai in Tamil Nadu. There was a photograph to support the proof that the particular bronze statue of Dancing Shiva was in the Indian temple in 1958.

Dancing Shiva

The Art Gallery of South Australia stated that it possessed ownership of the statue in 2001 after it followed the required standard procedures, which at that time were professionally rigorous. A spokesman of the art gallery said in an emailed response: “The Art Gallery of South Australia started the provenance research of the statue in 2014. The research went deeper in September 2016 as researchers went into the French Institute of Pondicherry’s photographic archives. It was there that James Bennett, a curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia identified the 1958 photograph of the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Dancing Siva statue placed in a South Indian temple. Bennett informed the authorities about what he saw.” 

ABC reported that the Dancing Shiva statue, which weighs about 100 kg, was acquired with about $437,000 in donated funds in 2001. However, it was assumed that the statue was declared missing from India on around mid-1982.

The antique panchaloha statue, which belonged to the Pandya era, has gotten to Tamil Nadu last weekend.

The return of the Dancing Shiva statue has caused a prolonged legal battle between the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Indian Government. Unfortunately, this day of victory arrives almost five years too late. Nevertheless, every India recognizes the importance of this event, and all citizens should keep in mind the significance of keeping such a sacred object out of the reach of Black Market opportunists.

The repatriation proved to be a very favourable event for all Indian citizens. Several citizens travelled about 600 km to welcome home the bronze statue. Most of them converted the railway station to a temporary temple where they performed the rituals of aarti and puja. They happily celebrated the return of the sacred statue from the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide.

Tamil Nadu special police team and AGSA made a special effort to return this bronze idol, thanks to them.

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