Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Statue not coming back: US museum

Statue not coming back: US museum

Statue not coming back: US museum

Buoyed by a series of recent antiquity return agreements, Cambodia hoped it would soon restore the full panoply of statues looted from a 10th-century temple north of Angkor Wat.

But an Ohio art museum announced yesterday that a sculpture it houses will not be making the return trip just yet.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper yesterday reported that the Cleveland Museum of Art contests Cambodia’s claim that the kneeling Hindu monkey god was pillaged from the Prasat Chen temple.

According to the newspaper, the museum sent one of its curators to Cambodia last winter to investigate the origins of the Hanuman statue. Equipped with a replica of the statue, the art historian could not make a match with any of the temple’s empty pedestals. Cambodian officials said they were not aware the museum had conducted the investigation.

“It’s surprising they would say it’s not from there. We’re sure this monkey is from the Koh Ker [complex],” Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts heritage director Hab Touch said.

Archaeologists from the French School of Asian Studies helped the government identify the looted statues of Prasat Chen using tableaus of the full scene of the temple as well as of the nearby Banteay Srei temple.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the investigation is a “politically and strategically motivated” defence, not a search for truth. He added that the Cambodian government needs to hire an independent expert to examine all evidence.

The Cleveland Museum of Art did not return requests for comment yesterday.

With six of the temple’s nine statues on the way back to the Kingdom, the National Museum is preparing a special exhibition to open in June, including two pieces returned by the New York Metropolitan a year ago, one returned from Sotheby’s, one from Christie’s and one from the Norton Simon Museum.

Meanwhile, the Denver Art Museum, which houses the Rama statue that Cambodian experts allege was also looted from Prasat Chen, said it is “committed to further research regarding [the] history and provenance” of its artefact.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Life goes on’ if Cambodia loses Everything But Arms

    Cambodia's business sector is exploring ways to mitigate any fallout from a possible loss of access to the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement as talks continue before the 28-member bloc makes a final decision. The EU monitoring process is set to conclude in

  • PM: Workers must train for Industry 4.0

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the Kingdom’s workforce to seek more technical training and strengthen their skills if they are to avoid job losses resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Hun Sen said the fourth industrial revolution is like a double-edged sword that

  • Huawei applies for OS trademark in Cambodia

    China's Huawei Technologies Co has applied to trademark the “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) in a number of countries including Cambodia in a bid to launch its homegrown operating system as a replacement for the Android OS, Reuters has reported. Huawei has applied to trademark the “

  • Kingdom’s dengue cases triple this year

    Within a span of 20 weeks this year, the death toll from dengue fever has risen to 21, while the number of those who have fallen ill due to the disease has reached over 12,000. A specialised official said the figure has risen about three times as much