A Canadian college will quickly return to India a singular statue of Hindu goddess Annapoorna that was stolen from a shrine in Varanasi over a century in the past and located its option to the varsity’s artwork gallery, in an try to “proper historic wrongs” and assist overcome the “damaging legacy of colonialism”.
The statue is a part of the College of Regina’s assortment on the MacKenzie Artwork Gallery. The statue was a part of the unique 1936 bequest by Norman MacKenzie, the gallery’s namesake.
Artist Divya Mehra introduced consideration to the truth that the statue had been wrongfully taken over a century in the past whereas going by way of MacKenzie’s everlasting assortment and making ready for her exhibition, the college mentioned in an announcement on Thursday.
The statue will quickly start its journey residence following a digital repatriation ceremony held on November 19. College’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Dr Thomas Chase nearly met with Excessive Commissioner of India to Canada Ajay Bisaria to formally repatriate the statue, it mentioned.
Representatives from the MacKenzie Artwork Gallery, International Affairs Canada, and Canada Border Companies Company additionally attended the ceremony.
“We’re delighted that this distinctive statue of Annapoorna is on her approach residence. I’m grateful to the College of Regina for his or her proactive engagement for the return of this cultural icon to India, ”Bisaria mentioned.
“The transfer to voluntarily repatriate such cultural treasures exhibits the maturity and depth of India-Canada relations,” he mentioned.
When Mehra researched the story behind the statue, she discovered that MacKenzie had seen the statue whereas on a visit to India in 1913. A stranger had overheard MacKenzie’s want to have the statue, and stole it for him from its unique location – a shrine at stone steps on the riverbank of the ganges at Varanasi, India, the varsity mentioned.
Dr Siddhartha V Shah, Curator of Indian and South Asian Artwork on the Peabody Essex Museum, recognized the statue because the Hindu goddess Annapoorna.
She holds a bowl of kheer (rice pudding) in a single hand and a spoon within the different. These are objects related to Annapoorna, who’s the goddess of meals and the queen of town of Varanasi. She is well known by her devotees as one who nourishes and strengthens the physique by way of meals, and the soul by way of enlightenment, the assertion mentioned.
“The repatriation of the Annapoorna is a part of a worldwide, long-overdue dialog through which museums search to handle dangerous and persevering with imperial legacies constructed into, typically, the very foundations of their collections. As stewards of cultural heritage, our duty to behave respectfully and ethically is prime, as is the willingness to look critically at our personal institutional histories, ”mentioned Alex King, Curator / Preparator, College of Regina President’s Artwork Assortment.
When the present administration on the College and the MacKenzie Artwork Gallery had been alerted to the documentation which revealed the statute as an object of tradition theft, each establishments dedicated to taking acceptable motion, the varsity mentioned.
“As a college, now we have a duty to proper historic wrongs and assist overcome the damaging legacy of colonialism wherever potential,” mentioned Chase.
“Repatriating this statue doesn’t atone for the improper that was achieved a century in the past, however it’s an acceptable and vital act at present. I’m grateful to the MacKenzie Artwork Gallery, the Indian Excessive Fee, and the Division of Canadian Heritage for his or her roles in making it potential, ”the Vice-Chancellor mentioned.
(This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.)