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Stolen 10th century yogini sculpture heading back to India

Shubhadeep Choudhury

New Delhi, January 15

Stolen sculpture of a goat-headed Yogini has been handed over to the High Commissioner Gaitri Issar Kumar in London for repatriation to India.

The 10th century stone statue was stolen from a temple in Lokhari, Uttar Pradesh in the 1980s. It had briefly surfaced in the art market in London in 1988.

In a press release, the High Commission of India in London said it was happy to announce the recovery and repatriation of a “very special stone idol” that was illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari, Banda, Uttar Pradesh, sometime in the 1980s.

Indian Pride Project, Singapore and Art Recovery International, London, assisted the Indian High Commission in UK in the identification and recovery of the statue. The High Commission processed the requisite documentation with British and Indian authorities, stated the press release.

The goat-headed Yogini sculpture originally belonged to a group of stone deities carved in sandstone and installed at the Lokhari temple. The deities had been subject of a study by Indian scholar Vidya Dahejia on behalf of the National Museum in New Delhi in 1986. The study was later published under the title “Yogini Culy and Temples : A Tantric Tradition”.

A similar sculpture of a buffalo-headed Yogini, apparently stolen from the same temple at Lokhari village, was recovered and repatriated by the Indian Embassy in Paris in 2013. The “Vrishanana Yogini” has been kept at the National Museum, New Delhi, an Archeological Survey of India (ASI) official said.

“Yoginis are a group of powerful female divinities, associated with the Tantric mode of worship. They are worshipped as a group”, Gautam Sengupta, former Director General of ASI, told this reporter.

The goat-headed Yogini received at the High Commission is being dispatched to the ASI for conservation, the press release by the High Commission of India in UK, stated.

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