An 18th-century statue of goddess Annapurna will be returned to India, where it was stolen more than a century ago and transported to Canada. The statue is believed to be originally from Varanasi and was part of the University of Regina’s collection housed at the MacKenzie Art Gallery.
The statue was handed over by the interim president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina, Thomas Chase, to India’s high commissioner to Ottawa, Ajay Bisaria in a virtual repatriation ceremony held on Thursday.
In a media release, the University of Regina said the statue was part of a bequest in 1936 by Norman MacKenzie, the gallery’s namesake. While preparing for an upcoming exhibit at the gallery, artist Divya Mehra went through MacKenzie’s collection and saw the statue.
“Artist Divya Mehra brought attention to the fact that the statue was wrongfully taken over a century ago while going through the MacKenzie’s permanent collection and preparing for her exhibition From India to Canada and Back to India,” it said.
University of Regina sending stolen statue home to India
The statue was identified by Dr Siddhartha V. Shah, Curator of Indian and South Asian Art at the Peabody Essex Museum, from her female physical characteristics. She holds a bowl of kheer (rice pudding) in one hand and a spoon in the other.
“The repatriation of the Annapoorna is part of a global, long-overdue conversation in which museums seek to address harmful and continuing imperial legacies built into, sometimes, the very foundations of their collections. As stewards of cultural heritage, our responsibility to act respectfully and ethically is fundamental, as is the willingness to look critically at our own institutional histories,” said Alex King, Curator/Preparator, University of Regina President’s Art Collection.
“Today, we conduct due diligence on the provenance of incoming artwork but will take steps to review objects that have been in our care before such standards were commonplace,” Alex added.
Source: Republic World