The Sydney-based Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) said on Friday that it will give Nepal a finely carved temple strut, or tunala, that showed a Hindu deity.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday that the strut, which was stolen from the 13th-century Ratneshwar temple in Lalitpur, a city southeast of Kathmandu, would be returned at a ceremony attended by Australia’s assistant foreign minister, Tim Watts, at the Patan Museum in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
According to Watts of ABC News Australia, “This is a significant gesture in line with Australia’s commitment to the highest standards of ethical practice and international obligations.” “This tunala’s return to Nepal will further deepen our mutually beneficial relationship.” Antiquities that were in Latchford’s possession were regularly discovered to have been robbed and, more recently, returned to their own countries. The most recent group of such items to be returned to their place of origin this year was 70 gold artifacts associated with Latchford that were returned to Cambodia in February.
Director Michael Brand claims that AGNSW was notified of the strut’s theft in early 2001, but it took a long time to determine its history, certify that it was “illegally removed,” and negotiate its return. AGNSW maintained the item throughout that period as a “repository of last resort,” in line with Australian law, on the grounds that its native country was not a secure location for it.
As Brand informed the Herald, it is likely that the repatriation strut may be reattached upon return, but “that is a decision for professionals in Nepal.” The temple had copies of the struts placed in 1992.