A 12th-century marble sculpture stolen from an archaeological site in India 15 years ago is to return home after being tracked down in Britain.
The sculpture of Brahma and his consort Brahmani was officially handed over to India’s high commissioner to the UK on Friday, having been examined by experts and authenticated.
Thieves took the artwork from the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Rani-ki-Vav in Patan, Gujarat in November 2001. It was then smuggled out of the country before resurfacing in the UK last year when it was advertised for sale by a London art dealer.
The sculpture was identified by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Dr Kirit Mankodi, a retired archaeologist who has been working to help recover items of stolen Indian art for several years.
Once the owner became aware that the Brahma and Brahmani piece had been removed from India illegally, it was handed over to officials from the London-based Art Loss Register, an organisation that specialises in the recovery and return of lost and stolen art. The sculpture was thoroughly examined by experts from the ASI, and following a number of discussions, was positively identified as the missing 12th-century piece.
High commissioner Navtej Sarna met representatives from the Art Loss Register at India House in Westminster on Friday for the formal handover. He expressed his deep appreciation for the work done returning this stolen artefact back to India.