Chicago museum to return 900-year-old artefact to Thailand

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

A 900-year-old artefact, originating from the Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buriram, will be repatriated by the Art Institute of Chicago to Thailand’s Fine Arts Department (FAD).

Phanombut Chantarachot, FAD Director-General, announced yesterday June 19 that the US institute intends to return a 12th-century fragment of a pilaster depicting the Hindu deity Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana. This artefact is part of a door frame of a mandapa located east of Prasat Phanom Rung, an ancient Khmer ruin and Shiva shrine situated on an extinct volcano in Chalerm Phrakiat district.

Research by the Office of National Museums revealed that the artefact was likely smuggled out of Thailand around 1965, just before the FAD began a renovation project at the historical site.

Nicolas Revire, an expert on Southeast Asian art and archaeology from the Art Institute of Chicago, visited the Phanom Rung Historical Park and found evidence linking the fragment, which was donated to the institute in 1966, to the Phanom Rung Stone Castle. His findings prompted the institute to decide on the artefact’s return, concerned it might have been illegally removed from its original location.

The institute’s board of trustees approved the proposal to remove the item from its records on June 11 and has since informed the FAD about the repatriation process, said Culture Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol.

“Even though the artefact is not on the list of ancient objects Thailand is trying to retrieve, the Art Institute of Chicago’s offer to return it is joyous news.”

She commended the institute for recognising the importance of legal possession of historical objects and highlighted the strong relationship between Thailand and the United States, reported Bangkok Post.

The 12th-century pilaster fragment featuring Krishna will soon be returned to its rightful home at Prasat Phanom Rung in Buriram.

In related news, archaeologists revealed that an ancient sandstone artefact discovered in some temple grounds dates back to the era of the Srivijaya Kingdom.

A history tour group stumbled upon the sandstone while visiting Wat Palilaik in tambon Lamet. The group quickly informed Chaiya District Chief Chaowalit Rodjanarat about their find, suspecting the artefact to be over 1,000 years old due to its intricate carvings.

Thailand News

Bright Choomanee

With a degree in English from Srinakharinwirot University, Bright specializes in writing engaging content. Her interests vary greatly, including lifestyle, travel, and news. She enjoys watching series with her orange cat, Garfield, in her free time.

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