The Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (Independent charge), Prahlad Singh Patel inaugurated ‘Gallery of Confiscated and Retrieved Antiquities’ at Purana Qila in New Delhi today.Curated by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Gallery is located in the arched cells of Purana Qila and displays confiscated and retrieved antiquities to public.Speaking to the media after tour of the gallery, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel said that it is a matter of pride that we have been able to retrieve the previous pieces of our heritage from abroad. The number of antiquities recovered in the last five years is the highest ever, he revealed. The Minister said that the credit goes to our Prime Minister who not only made efforts to help retrieve these antiquities but personally carried them back with him during his official tours abroad. The recent success is because of our continuously improving cultural relations with various countries of the world. The Minister lauded the tireless efforts of various government agencies like ASI, CBI , DRI among others in this endeavour.The displayed heritage in the Gallery is a part of Central Antiquity Collection (CAC), located in Purana Qila which was created to house the antiquities explored and excavated by the ASI and also those antiquities which were retrieved and confiscated with the help of Ministry of External Affairs and various law enforcing agencies i.e. Police, CBI, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and Custom officials. Presently, a total of 2,72,824 antiquities have been stored in the CAC out of which 4,144 are confiscated/retrieved antiquities.The ‘Gallery of Confiscated and Retrieved Antiquities’ showcases a part display of 198 confiscated and retrieved antiquities belonging from ancient to modern period from the CAC collection. The exhibition also sensitizes the visitors about the illegal trade of precious heritage items and process and regulations for retrieving them.
Accordingly, the Gallery displays two parallel narratives which will provide a holistic understanding of the importance of repatriation of smuggled antiquities. One of the narratives establishes the larger context of the museum display including the importance of cultural heritage; laws governing our heritage; theft and trafficking of cultural items and the process of retrieval of smuggled antiquities, while the other narrative will focus on the intrinsic aesthetic qualities and iconography of the artifacts.The display in the gallery ranges from proto-historic to modern period and affiliated to different provenances. The wide range of retrieved or confiscated antiquities includes stone and metal sculptures, coins, paintings, ivory and copper artifacts, architectural panels, etc. Some of the exclusive exhibits showcased in the gallery are Bronze sculptures of Parvati and Sridevi of Chola Period (brought back in 2016), Standing Buddha (returned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the year 1999), terracotta Mother Goddess of Mauryan period (brought back in the year 2016), Brahma-Brahmani (confiscated by Central Bureau of Investigation), Mithuna (seized in New York and brought back in the year 2010) and Kashmiri Harwan tile (returned to India by Consulate General of India, New York in the year 2016).In the past, many of valuable antiquities, artifacts and sculptures have been stolen from India and are sold in foreign countries. As per the Antiquity and Art Treasures Act, 1972 and rules 1973, it is the duty of Archaeological Survey of India to stop theft, illegal export and regulates domestic trade of antiquities.So far, ASI, has retrieved 44 stolen antiquities from USA, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Canada and England and 119 more antiquities are in the process of retrieval. Owing to the efforts of ASI no theft has been reported from any Centrally Protected Monument or site museum under ASI during last few years.The gallery will remain open for public from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM (except Friday).