Australia to return historic Indian artefacts amid investigation
27 November 2019
Australia will return three centuries old artefacts to India when Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits the country early next year, the Australian government said today.
The culturally significant artefacts were bought by the National Gallery of Australia from a New York-based art dealer who is currently under investigation, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
Morrison, who is due to visit India in January, said the gallery has decided to return the items after extensive research.
The artefacts include a pair of door guardians (dwarapalaks) from the 15th century, from Tamil Nadu; and a sculpture of the serpent king, from Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, made in the sixth to eighth centuries.
“Like India, we understand the value of our ancient cultures and artefacts,” Morrison said. “The return of these artefacts is the right thing to do. This is another demonstration of deep relationship between Australia and India.”
Both India and Australia are party to the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property.
Australia’s gesture comes amid growing calls for repatriation of cultural artefacts appropriated by foreign countries. Some of these are looted while some are taken by force but with official sanction years ago.