ASI miffed at damage to museum pieces

ASI has referred to the damage to a unique Mauryan lion at the IndianMuseum in Kolkata. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

ASI has referred to the damage to a unique Mauryan lion at the IndianMuseum in Kolkata. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish  

Irreversible damage to two of the finest pieces of Indian art at the Indian Museum, renowned for its collection of rare artefacts, here has made the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) write to the Union Culture Ministry.

Expressing outrage at the damage to the precious artefacts dating back to the 2nd and 3rd century BC, the ASI warned the Ministry that the Museum would cease to exist “in the near future” if such a callous attitude continued.

While the damage to the right foot of the 2nd century BC figure of a Yakshi was noticed a few weeks ago, chips on the chest and belly of the “Lion Capital of Rampurva”, a unique specimen of Mauryan sculpture, were discovered last year. Two inspection reports, accessed by The Hindu, suspect the damage was caused by mishandling. “There is a definite damage above the right foot of the sculpture near the ankle. Though the museum staff are of the opinion it was caused by flaking, we did not feel so,” says the report on the Yakshi statue. “The dent is quite deep and abrasive as per standard norms of flaking.” A thorough investigation, it says, “is justifiable under the circumstances.”

The damage to the “Lion Capital of Rampurva”, unearthed by archaeologist Dayaram Sahni in 1907-08, was definitely due to faulty shifting, the report says. The experts who prepared the report were told that the authorities decided to shift this heavy sculpture in two pieces as was done earlier.

Sources said copies of the reports had been sent to West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. The damage came to public notice at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing a petition by the family of Sunil Kumar Upadhyay, preservation officer at the museum, who mysteriously disappeared from his rented apartment in the city on July 3, 2014, and been has remained untraced since.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 2:05:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/asi-miffed-at-damage-to-museum-pieces/article7032958.ece

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