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Stolen Images of Nepal

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Item Code: UAG910
Author: Lain S. Bangdel
Publisher: NEPAL Academyn, Kathmandu
Language: English
Edition: 1989
Pages: 328 (Throughout B/w and Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 8.50 inch
Weight 1.07 kg
Book Description
About the Author
The Author, Lain S. Bangdel (born 1924) is one of the leading authorities on Nepalese art. He graduated from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Calcutta (India) in 1945. He studied at the Ecole National Superior des Beaux Arts, Paris (1952-55). In London, he undertook research into the history of European art (1956-60). Mr. Bangdel was also a visiting professor at Denison University, Ohio, U.S.A. (1968-69), where he taught history of Southeast Asian art. In 1961, His late Majesty King Mahendra nominated him a member of the Royal Nepal Academy. His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev nominated him as the Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy (1974-79) and as the Chancellor (1979-89). Lain S. Bangdel is the author of a number of novels, travelogues and biographies of great European masters. He is the author of THE EARLY SCULPTURES OF NEPAL and TWENTY-FIVE HUNDRED YEARS OF NEPALESE ART (German Ed.). He has also contributed many articles on arts and crafts to reputed journals. He has received foreign decorations from a number of countries, including Italy, France, Great Britain and Spain, as well as national and international awards such as Birendra Gold Medal and Dulichand Gold Medal, for his contribution to art and literature.

For the past few years, stone sculptures of great historical value have been stolen from the Valley of Kathmandu. This is indeed a great loss to our cultural heritage. In view of this, a project was undertaken by the Royal Nepal Academy in which research was carried out on the stolen images of Nepal by Mr. Lain S. Bangdel, former Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy, who is a distinguished scholar, a noted artist, and one of the leading authorities on Nepalese art. It is hoped that this book will draw the attention of antique dealers, art collectors and museums all over the world and eventually stop the illegal smuggling of religious images from Nepal.

The art of Nepal, which has expanded over two thousand years, is mostly concentrated in the Valley of Kathmandu.

The Kingdom of Nepal was isolated from the rest of the world for many centuries: firstly, due to geographical isolation; and secondly, no outsider was allowed to visit the country. Therefore, the art objects of Nepal, whether stone sculptures, bronzes, or wooden works or paintings, were all safe and intact in the country. Those foreigners who were allowed to visit the Valley of Kathmandu with special permission were spellbound to see the art and architecture of the Valley. They wrote on and praised lavishly what they saw.

Among them were Percival Landon, Daniel Wright, Oldfield, Sylvan Levi, Kirkpatrick and Percy Brown.

In the early fifties, Nepal was opened to the world and for the first time foreigners could see the ancient city of Kathmandu. They found the Valley of Kathmandu like an enormous open museum where thousands of icons of gods and goddesses in stone, metal, wood or terra-cotta could be seen scattered around. Such art objects were found literally almost everywhere - in temples, shrines, monasteries, Buddhist chaityas, stupas, old palaces, private courtyards, streets, narrow lanes, bylanes, water spouts, open fields, neglected places, etc.

'Until then the art of Nepal was virtually unknown to the world. In 1964, Dr. Stella Kramrisch organized an exhibition of Nepalese art in Asia House, New York and published a magnificent catalogue. Actually, she was the first scholar . to introduce the art of Nepal to the western world. In 1966, the Department of Archaeology of His Majesty's Government of Nepal arranged an exhibition of Nepalese art in western Europe which further generated interest in the art 'of Nepal among the western public. Then, a number of articles and books on ,various aspects of Nepalese art began to appear. Perhaps it would not be out of place to mention here a few noted publications which further helped to introduce the art of Nepal to the world .

. Dr. Pratapaditya Pal's book, THE ARTS OF NEPAL, Part I, Sculpture, appeared in 1974, and Part II, Painting, in 1978. In 1982 NEPAL MANDALA by Dr. Mary Slusser appeared in two volumes; and the same year, THE EARL Y SCULPTURES OF NEPAL by the author was published. The latter was a major breakthrough especially in the ancient art of Nepal. Mr. Krishna Deva's book, IMAGES OF NEPAL, appeared in 1984; this was followed by the author's book, 2500 YEARS Of NEPALESE ART, in 1987, in a German edition. The above mentioned books are major contributions to the field of Nepalese art, although other books on the art of Nepal have also appeared, such as THE ART OF NEPAL by Amita Ray, NEPAL; TREASURES FROM THE HIMALAYAS by E. and R.L. Waldschmidt, and NEWAR ART by A.W. McDonald and Anne Stahl.

As interest was growing in the art of Nepal, art objects of Kathmandu Valley began to disappear fast. From the late sixties, stone sculptures of great archaeological value were missing. At night, valuable images were stolen from temples, shrines, chaityas, stupas or niches where the images had been kept for centuries. In some cases, priceless images were mutilated or disfigured in attempts to remove them.

This book provides strong and authentic photographic evidence of those sculptures which were stolen from the Valley of Kathmandu and the surrounding areas during the past twenty-five years. Other Nepalese art objects, such as bronzes, wooden sculptures and terra-cottas which were stolen earlier, are not included here. It is hoped that they will also be published in the near future. We are more concerned now about the safety of the remaining images in Nepal, in view of the increasing art theft of stone sculptures. Therefore, our next publication will be an inventory of stone sculptures of the Valley of Kathmandu based upon a comprehensive survey. During our survey, we discovered that a great number of stone sculptures were already stolen. Since photographic evidence had been made, these images are lost forever.

Although we are aware of the UNESCO Convention, we hope this book will attract the attention of the western art world, where antiques are bought and sold in the art markets, through art dealers or in public auctions. Many would buy such art objects not knowing whether they had been stolen or illegally smuggled out of the country. In fact, many of the stolen sculptures mentioned in this book may someday appear in the art market, or museums, but, once it is proved they are stolen art objects, no one has the right to possess them. This small Himalayan country. will be completely deprived of its rich cultural heritage by the end of this century if such illegal art trafficking is not checked and stopped in time.

I wish to express my deep sense of gratitude to my friend jurgen Schick who supplied a number of photographs. My heartful thanks to Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, Dr. Mary Slusser, Dr. Gutschow, Dr. Jerome Rogoff, Ian Alsop, Jim Goodman, Mrs. Lydia Aran and Sanuraj Sakya for supplying a number of photographs with kind permission to publish them. Dina Bangdel, my daughter, has been a great help in the preparation of this book. Without her help this book would not have been completed in time. My sincere thanks to her. I would also like to thank Betty Wood send for helping me in more ways than one in regard to the preparation of this book.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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