HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today handed over rare historical artifacts that were stolen decades ago and recovered recently from the United States, to National Archives of Nepal.
The six wooden covers of ancient Hindu religious books of Shiva Dharma, Bishnu Dharma and Bhagabata which are carved with colorful paintings of Hindu Gods were handed over to Prakash Darnal, chief, National Archives of Nepal, by MoFA Spokesperson Deepak Dhital today at a programme organised at MoFA.
The 13th to 16th century artifacts, among the ancient paintings from Nepal, were stolen between 1986 to 1990 and were suddenly found in New York in March, when Christie’s, a world renowned auction house, put them in auction. Their value was estimated in range of $150,000-$200,000.
After it became evident that those wooden cover of religious books, carved with ancient paintings belonged to Nepal, the auction house handed it over to the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, DC, in June. They were flown to Kathmandu three weeks ago.
It was handed over based on what was widely reported that those antiques matched with the Nepali wooden paintings whose microfilm was safe in the National Archives of Nepal.
Talking to media, Darnal said it came to light that they were lost only after Christie’s put them under the hammer in New York in March. “They are among the oldest paintings found so far in Nepal,” he said. He thanked all those who extended support to bring the items of historical significance back to Nepal. “If we did not have the microfilm of them, we would not have been able to bring them back,” Darnal said.
According to Darnal, National Archives of Nepal has safely kept as many as 30,000 ancient religious and non-books, in addition to more than 200,000 documents and antiques which have been saved in microfilms. It has also kept thousands of ancient documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.