France returns stolen Cambodian deity head, 130 years after

France returns stolen Cambodian deity head, 130 years after

Thursday, January 21, 2016 10:17 am

Cambodia's Harihara statue now on public display

Cambodia’s Harihara statue now on public display

France’s Guimet Museum  has returned to Cambodia a 47-kilogram head of the Harihara statue, a deity that combines aspects of the Vishnu and Shiva gods. It was taken from a Cambodian temple 130 years ago.

The head was re-attached to its life-sized body and exhibited to the public at the National Museum in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

“The head and the body of the statue had been separated for 130 years. Today, it is a historical milestone that they are reunited,”said Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An on Thursday.

Pierre Baptiste, a representative from the Guimet Museum, said the head of the statue was taken from Cambodia and shipped to France between 1882 and 1883.

The full statue could also be taken for display in France in the future.

Numerous Cambodian artifacts had been stolen and illegally trafficked out of Cambodia during the 1970s when the country fell into civil war.

In the past three years, auction houses and museums in the United States had returned six looted ancient statues to Cambodia, while Thailand returned 16 smuggled ancient treasures to the country.

Also, in October last year, a Norwegian private collector returned two Khmer artifacts–the 9th century “Head of Shiva God” and the 12th century “Head of Male Divinity”to Cambodia.

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