US returns more statues to Cambodia

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Four-arm Narayana Body”, a Khmer cultural piece, will soon be returned to Cambodia following a repatriation ceremony held on November 2 in New York.

Keo Chhea, Cambodian Ambassador to the US, received the sculpture after signing an understanding with a representative of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

According to the Cambodian Embassy, the sandstone “Four-arm Narayana Body” is sculptured in the pre-Angkorian style.

Chhea, in a statement, said “they were looted from places where they had been situated in peace for centuries, and they belong in Cambodia.”

Under the longstanding cooperation on cultural preservation between Cambodia and the United States, many Khmer priceless antiquities have been returned to Cambodia, he said.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona said yesterday that she was informed about the Four-arm Narayana Body from Chhea, and sought for the handover to be held at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

“We have received quite a few artifacts and thery are being stored in a secure warehouse. We are still waiting to collect other artifacts recovered by the US authorities.

“If we bring the artifact back each time we receive an item, it will cost us a lot of money. So we wait to collect a lot of artifacts before bringing them home,” Sackona added.

Most of the artifacts include fragments of Vishnu’s hands, head and feet, statues of the Buddha and other statues, and kept in a secure store of the Cambodian Embassy in the US, she said.

On Wednesday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced the return of a Vishnu statue from a 7th-century temple to Cambodia.

It is understood that the sandstone figure was looted from its original location and smuggled into Manhattan through Thailand in 1995 by an antiquities trader named Wiener and sold to a private collector.

Agencies

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