ASI identifies Indian artefacts seized from smuggler Subhash Kapoor

It had sent a two-member team to the US and it went through nearly 100 objects.

Updated - May 09, 2019 12:54 am IST

Published - May 08, 2019 10:33 pm IST - New Delhi

Artefact of Manjushri (Eastern Pala period); Lingodhbhava (Late Chola period); and Mithuna (Kalachuris of Tripuri).

Artefact of Manjushri (Eastern Pala period); Lingodhbhava (Late Chola period); and Mithuna (Kalachuris of Tripuri).

From idols dating back to the Gupta period (5th-6th Century AD) to terracotta objects of the Harappan culture, a range of Indian antiquities and artefacts that were smuggled by Subhash Kapoor have been identified by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during a team’s recent visit to the United States.

In a statement here on Wednesday, the ASI said a team of two officials, Dr. Urmila Sant and P.S. Sriraman, visited the U.S. after receiving communication from the office of the Consulate General of India in New York about the seizure of artefacts by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of U.S. Department of Homeland Security from the storage of the art smuggler Subhash Kapoor. The ASI said the team identified close to a 100 objects in total, including 17 objects that had been seized by the department.

“The antiquities comprise beautiful bronzes from the Suttamalli and Sripurantan temples of Tamil Nadu and also a very significant image of Mahakoka Devata. Of these, four antiquities were stolen from the protected monuments at Karitalai, district Katni in Madhya Pradesh on August 16 and 17, 2006,” the ASI said.

Also read:  The man who stole gods  |  Exposing a multi-decade smuggling operation  |  In pursuit of an art smuggler

Apart from that, 56 terracotta objects that were returned by Toledo Museum in Ohio to the Indian consulate were declared to be antiquities by the team. These objects, majority of which were from Chandraketugarh in West Bengal, had been gifted to the museum by Kapoor.

Artefact of Mahakoka Devata.

Artefact of Mahakoka Devata.

“Further, 232 objects comprising of brass and copper alloys, gold with enamel work, silver, stone and terracotta in possession of the Indian consulate were also inspected by the ASI officials. Among them, few were identified as antiquities, like the stone image of the Buddha of Mathura School, a terracotta image of the Buddha belonging to the Gupta period and a set of 10 copper plates engraved with Quranic verses of the late Mughal Period,” the ASI said.

The statement added that after Kapoor's arrest in Germany in 2011, many museums in the world had shared information about the antiquities procured from him.

“Many museums in the U.S. have also deposited various valuable antiquities to Homeland Security officials that they had purchased from Kapoor, saying they were not aware that the items had been smuggled into the country,” the ASI said, adding that the Indian consulate in New York would be working on transporting the objects back to India.

The smuggler was extradited to India and is currently in the custody of Tamil Nadu police, the ASI said.

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