PM Modi to bring 157 antiquities handed over by US

The artefacts to be brought by PM Modi include a 8.5 cm bronze figurine of Nataraja from the 12th CE. Photo: Twitter @kishanreddybjp

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will bring 157 artefacts and antiquities, which were handed over to India by the US during his visit, with both he and President Joe Biden expressing commitment to strengthening efforts to combat theft, illicit trade and trafficking of cultural objects.

While nearly half of the artefacts (71) are cultural, the other half consists of figurines related to Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16) and Jainism (9), an official statement said on Saturday.

Modi conveyed his deep appreciation for the repatriation of antiquities to India by the United States.

The list of 157 artefacts includes a diverse set of items ranging from the one-and-a-half metre bas relief panel of Revanta in sandstone of the 10th CE to the 8.5 cm tall, exquisite bronze Nataraja from the 12th CE.

According to government sources, between 2014 – when Modi came to power – and 2021, over 200 antiquities have either returned or are in the process of being returned.

Referring to the items handed over to India by the US during Modi's ongoing trip, the official statement said they largely belong to the period of 11th CE to 14th CE as well as historic antiquities such as the copper anthropomorphic object of 2000 BC or the terracotta vase from the 2nd CE. Some 45 antiquities belong to Before Common Era, it said.
Their make spreads across metal, stone and terracotta, the statement said.

The bronze collection primarily contains ornate figurines of the well-known postures of Lakshmi Narayana, Buddha, Vishnu, Siva Parvathi and the 24 Jain Tirthankaras and the less common Kankalamurti, Brahmi and Nandikesa besides other unnamed deities and divine figures.

The statement noted that the motifs include religious sculptures from Hinduism-- three headed Brahma, chariot driving Surya, Vishnu and his consorts, Siva as Dakshinamurti and dancing Ganesha among others, Buddhism-- standing Buddha, Boddhisattva Majushri, Tara, and Jainism-- Jain Tirthankara, Padmasana Tirthankara, Jaina Choubisi, as well as secular motifs, including amorphous couple in Samabhanga and chowri-bearer female playing drum among others.

There are 56 terracotta pieces and an 18th CE sword with sheath with inscription mentioning Guru Hargovind Singh in Persian, it added.

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