“We have restored two Shiva statues to the rightful country of ownership that was taken illegally,” Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said after returning them to his counterpart, Narendra Modi during his official visit here on Friday.
Australia took the decision to return the statues with great speed the moment India conveyed its request, Modi said”I would like to convey to Prime Minister Abbott the deep sense of gratitude of 1.25 billion people of India for the efforts he has made to bring with him two ancient statues that were stolen from India.”
“Prime Minister Abbott and the people of Australia have shown enormous respect and regard not only for our ancient treasure, but also for our cultural heritage,” he said at the joint press briefing with the Australian Prime Minister.
One of the idols is a dancing Shiva, which belonged to the Chola dynasty of 11th-12th century and the other sculpture is of Ardhanariswara, which represents Shiva in half-female form, and dates back to 10th century, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.The report said both the statues were allegedly stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu and their return was sought by India in March.
The Nataraja (Dancing Shiva) statue, cast in bronze, was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in February 2008 at a price of US$5.1 million from a New York-based art and antiquities dealer.Meanwhile, the Ardhanariswara statue was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2004 for approximately US$280,979, said the report.