Return of six of the nine statues looted from Cambodia

Hanuman Statue © Ministry of Culture of Cambodia

Between 2013 and 2015, Cambodia obtained the return of six of the nine statues looted in Prasat Chen, Koh Ker and located abroad. UNESCO acted as a facilitator in these discussions.

During the Third Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention in May 2015, was celebrated the latest restitution to Cambodia of the statue “Hanuman”, the kneeling Hindu  monkey god, the sixth restitution returned to Cambodia in the last two years.

This 10th century statue was returned by the Museum of Art of Cleveland, United States of America. The statue Hanuman which has a human body and a monkey's head and tail represent one of the five characters depicted in the battle between Valin and Sugriva in the Ramayana epic.

The six statues that have been returned are the following:

  • The Duryodhana
  • The Bhima
  • The Pandava Brothers
  • Sahadeva & Nakula
  • The Balarama
  • The Hanuman

On 7 May 2014 in New York, three sculptures (the Duryodhana, Bhima, and Balarama) were voluntarily returned to Cambodia. These sculptures are now all exhibited at the National Museum of Phnom Penh.

In June 2013, the opening ceremony of the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee celebrated the return to Cambodia of two of these statues (known as the Pandava Brothers – Sahadeva & Nukula) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The statues were handed over to H.E. Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, who stressed the central role of heritage preservation in the national reconstruction and economic development of Cambodia. The UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, also participated in the ceremony and emphasized: “this restitution is an expression of strong ethical and moral behaviour that provides an example of good practice to other museums and collectors (…) UNESCO is honoured to have contributed to this restitution, which is, I believe, a move towards greater respect and mutual understanding.”


See also

© 2013 WHC -Important Khmer statues returned to Cambodia during opening of World Heritage meeting in Phnom Penh

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