5 decades on, stolen Chola-era Parvathi idol found in US

Stolen in 1971, the idol's estimated value is pegged over Rs.1.6 crore.
Paravati idol
Paravati idol

CHENNAI: An antique Chola-era idol of Parvathi, which was missing from a Sivan temple in Kumbakonam for the past four decades, was traced to an auction house in New York, the Idol Wing of Tamil Nadu police said on Monday.

The idol, which was stolen from the temple in 1971, has an estimated value of more than Rs 1.6 crore. On May 12, 1971, five antique idols were stolen from Nadanapureeswara Sivan temple in Thandanthottam. This included the Parvathi idol, said a press note from the Idol Wing on Monday.

It was a chance discovery by the investigation officer, who was searching for the idols stolen from Nadanapureeswara Sivan temple and came across the image of the Parvathi idol at the Bonhams Auction Place, New York.

The idol bore a striking resemblance to the missing artefact. “Further enquiries with the concerned authorities have confirmed our findings,” said DGP Jayanth Murali, head of the wing. Now, the officers have initiated steps to bring back the Parvathi Idol to India by proving the ownership through documents and the MLAT.“The Idol Wing hopes to retrieve the idol and restore it to the Nadanapureeswara Sivan temple soon under the UNESCO treaty,” the DGP added.In the last three weeks, this is the third artefact stolen from Tamil Nadu that the officers have traced to the US. Previously, the idol of Chola queen Sembiayan Mahadevi was found at Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC, while a 19th-century painting of Raja Serfoji, the last of the Bhonsle rajas of Thanjavur, was purchased by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts. The museum had later handed over the painting to the Department of Homeland Security there.

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