30 July 2007 (The Associate Press, by way of the Gainsville Sun and featured on many other American newspapers) – A stolen Apsara (celestial nymph) head is recovered in the US and returned to Cambodia. Because of their weight, the heads of Cambodian sculptures are often taken in lieu of the entire sculpture. As in the case of many of these artefacts, the heads have often gone into the hands of private collectors and this head is unlikely to be matched to its original location. Check out the podcast featuring the interview with Dr. Dougald O’Reilly of Heritage Watch to find out more about the illicit trade in Cambodian artefacts.
The U.S. government returned to Cambodia the head of an Angkor-era sculpture that had been stolen and smuggled out of the Southeast Asian country.
The artifact, weighing about 4.4 pounds, is a sandstone head of a celestial dancer, or apsara, from the 12th century, the U.S. Embassy said Monday in a statement.
It said the object was smuggled out of Cambodia into the United States in violation of a 2003 agreement between the two countries that aims to protect Cambodia’s cultural heritage. The statement did not say when the item was stolen, and was not immediately known who held the sculpture in the United States.
Read more about the recovery of the stolen Apsara head.
Interested in reading up on Angkoran sculpture? Read up:
– Images of the Gods: Khmer Mythology in Cambodia, Laos & Thailand by V. Roveda
– Temple Art Icons and Culture of India and South East Asia by K. V. Raman
– Arts of Southeast Asia (World of Art) by F. Kerlogue
– Art & Architecture of Cambodia (World of Art) by H. I. Jessup
– Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art by E. C. Bunker and D. Latchford
– Narrative Sculpture and Literary Traditions in South and Southeast Asia (Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology) by J. Fontein and M. J. Klokke (Eds)
– Khmer Mythology: Secrets Of Angkor Wat by V. Roveda
– Apsarases at Angkor Wat, in Indian context by K. M. Srivastava