• Thailand is calling for the return from the US of a prominent 11th-century stone lintel from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew province. Photo courtesy of Culture Ministry
  • Thailand is calling for the return of 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, as well as the Asian Art Museum.
  • Thailand is calling for return of from UK's SOAS of the 13th-century Lopburi Buddha torso. Photo courtesy of Angela Chiu

Thailand hopefully to get back over 60 looted Thai artworks from overseas

national November 01, 2018 03:00

By PHATARAWADEE PHATARANAWIK
THE NATION

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THAILAND IS hoping to recover 60 looted Thai artifacts from overseas, the Culture Ministry announced yesterday.



Thailand calls for returns of 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, as well as the Asian Art Museum.

“The ministry’s ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of dozens of artefacts that originated in Thailand from leading US museums and a UK museum,” Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said at a press conference at the National Library in Bangkok. 

“After a one-year investigation aimed at bringing hundreds of looted Thai art pieces from the US, we are expecting to get back more that 60 heritage artworks in the near future,” he said.

Thailand calls for retruns of two 11th-century stone lintels, one from Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram, right, and the other from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew. They are currently in the permanent collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Vira said the Prayut Cha-o-cha government had called for the return of 705 looted artefacts from museums in the US and Australia. 

Fine Art Department director Ananda Chuchoti said the pieces are expected to be coming home include two 11th-century stone lintels, one from Prasat Nong Hong in |Buri Ram and the other from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew. They are currently in the permanent collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Also anticipated are 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, as well as the Asian Art Museum.

“These masterpieces include an 8th-century bronze statue of the preaching Buddha called Avalokitesvara, taken from Prasat Hin Khao Bat II in Buri Ram,” archaeologist Tanongsak Hanwong, a member of the ad hoc ministry committee, told The Nation. “It is currently with the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York.”

Four other stone architectural artefacts taken from Buri Ram’s Prasart Panomrung and Nakhon Ratchasima’s Prasat Hin Pimai are also expected to return.

“More importantly,” said Tanongsak, “the government also determined that a 13-century Buddha statue now at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies is Thai art and is in the process of calling for its return.”

Thailand is calling for return of from UK's SOAS of  the 13th-century Lopburi Buddha torso. Photo courtesy of Angela Chiu

Ananda said the government was able to provide photographic and other verification of several artefacts’ origin to the US Department of Homeland Security as requested. 

American collector Lisette Christiansen and Thai physician Santi Viboonmongkol, who both keep collections in the US, intend to return 38 prehistoric artefacts, including Baan Chiang pottery, to the government.

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