Tamil Nadu

Azhvar idol traced to London museum

It went missing from Kumbakonam temple 60 years ago

The Idol Wing CID has traced a bronze idol of Thirumangai Azhvar, which went missing from a temple in Kumbakonam 60 years ago, to a museum in London.

Abhay Kumar Singh, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Idol Wing CID, told The Hindu, “The idol has been missing from the Soundararajaperumal temple in Sundaraperumalkovil village near Kumbakonam since the 1960s. We traced the bronze idol to the Ashmolean Museum, London, after verifying the documentation of Hindu idols by the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP). The picture of the Thirumangai Azhvar idol, which was taken in 1957, matches with the idol kept in the museum.”

The Idol Wing CID is pursuing new leads and reopening old cases which were closed several years ago.

Officers of the special unit had stumbled upon a new lead on the idol which went missing nearly 60 years ago.

Didn’t match picture

The investigators found a similar idol placed on the pedestal during a recent visit to the temple concerned. The picture provided by the IFP did not match with the idol they had seen at the temple, the police said.

The Ashmolean Museum, which is part of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, had purchased the idol in 1967 from an auction house for about $2,340.

“Now, we are taking steps to bring the idol back from London. We will intimate the Ashmolean Museum through the Indian Embassy and furnish a first information report (FIR), asserting that there had been a theft of property,” the ADGP said.

The Idol Wing CID had registered an FIR based on a complaint from the temple’s executive officer, Ka. Raja, who alleged that the idol went missing between 1957 and 1967.

The police have now intensified the investigation into the status of the idol between 1957 and 1967 and how it had ended up in London.

Other cases

“This positive development in the Ashmolean Museum will be the first big action on a new list of old robberies [of idols] from Tamil Nadu and Karaikal which we have cracked. The list of over 25 bronze idols has been passed on to law enforcement authorities in India and overseas. We hope similar action will follow from the other positive identifications in America, London, Germany and Singapore,” said S. Vijay Kumar, art enthusiast and founder of India Pride, an organisation that tracks Indian antiques.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:34:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/azhvar-idol-traced-to-london-museum/article30805447.ece

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