Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Ancient sculptures recovered from Australia, US


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : NA

Ten antiquities (sculptures) retrieved from Australia and the United States were handed over to the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Some of the returned antiquities, and how they had gone missing:

(1) Dvarapala:

  • Retrieved in 2020 from Australia, this stone sculpture belongs to the Vijayanagar dynasty dating to the 15th-16th century.
  • He is holding a gada in one hand and has another leg raised up to the level of his knee.
  • The sculpture was burgled from Moondreeswaramudayar Temple, Tiruneveli in1994.

(2) Nataraja:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, this image of Nataraja, a depiction of Shiva, in his divine cosmic dance form, is in tribhanga posture, standing on the lotus pedestal.
  • It is dateable to the 11th-12th century. Possibly, ananda tandava or the Dance of Bliss is portrayed here.
  • The sculpture was burgled from the strong room of Punnainallur Arulmigu Mariyamman Temple, Thanjavur, in 2018.

(3) Kankalamurti:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, Kankalamurti is depicted as a fearsome aspect of Lord Shiva and Bhairava.
  • The sculpture is four-armed, holding ayudhas such as damaru and trishula in the upper hands and a bowl and a trefoil shaped object, as a treat for the playful fawn, in the lower right hand.
  • The idol is dateable to the 12th-13th century, and was stolen from Narasinganadhar Swamy Temple, Tirunelveli in 1985.

(4) Nandikeshvara:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, this bronze image of Nandikeshvara is dateable to the 13th century.
  • It is shown standing in tribhanga posture with folded arms, holding an axe and a fawn in the upper arms, with his forearms in namaskara mudra.
  • This sculpture was stolen from Narasinganadhar Swamy Temple, Tirunelveli, in 1985.

(5) Four-armed Vishnu:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, dateable to the 11th century, and belonging to the later Chola period.
  • The sculpture has Lord Vishnu standing on a padma pedestal holding attributes such as shankha and chakra in two hands; while the lower right hand is in abhaya mudra.
  • It was stolen from Arulmigu Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ariyalur, in 2008.

(6) Goddess Parvati:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, the image depicts a Chola-period sculpture dateable to the 11th century.
  • She is shown holding a lotus in the left hand whereas the right is hanging down near her kati.
  • This sculpture was also stolen from Arulmigu Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ariyalur in 2008.

(7) Standing child Sambandar:

  • Retrieved in 2022 from Australia. Sambandar, the popular 7th-century child saint, is one of the Muvar, the three principal saints of South India.
  • The sculpture is dateable to the 11th century.
  • The legend goes that after receiving a bowl of milk from Goddess Uma, the infant Sambandar devoted his life to composing hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.
  • The sculpture displays the saint’s childlike quality, while also empowering him with the maturity and authority of a spiritual leader.
  • It was stolen from Sayavaneeswarar Temple, Nagapattinam, between 1965 and 1975.



UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥💥[Course]Smash Ethics by AIR 48, Ethics Topper 133 marks.
This is default text for notification bar