Historic Repatriation: 105 Indian Antiquities Returned in New York Ceremony

Preserving India's Treasures: A Momentous Repatriation of 105 Antiquities Strengthens India-US Cultural Bonds

Indian Antiquities – In a momentous event following the State Visit of Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, to the United States in June 2023, the Consulate General of India in New York hosted a significant repatriation ceremony. The ceremony marked the return of 105 trafficked Indian antiquities, which were handed over by the US side, symbolizing a strong commitment to preserving cultural heritage. The occasion was graced by the presence of Ambassador of India to the United States, Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who expressed heartfelt gratitude to Manhattan District Attorney, Mr. Alvin Bragg, and his Anti-Trafficking Unit, along with the Homeland Security Investigation team, for their unwavering cooperation and support.

The 105 Indian antiquities that were repatriated represent a diverse array of artifacts originating from different regions of India. Among these treasures, 47 hailed from Eastern India, 27 from Southern India, 22 from Central India, 6 from Northern India, and 3 from Western India. Spanning across centuries, the antiquities range from the 2nd to the 19th century CE, showcasing exquisite craftsmanship in terracotta, stone, metal, and wood.

Delving into the significance of these cultural artifacts, nearly 50 of them are religious in nature, encompassing themes from Hinduism, Jainism, and Islam. The remaining pieces hold immense cultural importance, shedding light on various aspects of India’s rich heritage.

Ambassador Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu emphasized the profound meaning these antiquities hold for the people of India. For them, these pieces are not mere works of art but living symbols of their cultural identity and heritage, connecting them to their ancestors and history.

The repatriation ceremony marks a significant step in India’s tireless efforts to reclaim stolen antiquities from abroad. The Indian government has been working diligently to retrieve these living symbols of the nation’s past. In recent years, India and the United States have established a close partnership in the realm of restitution, ensuring the return of these priceless treasures.

This event is not the first of its kind. In previous years, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to the US in 2016 and 2021, a total of 16 and 157 artifacts, respectively, were repatriated to India. Adding the 105 artifacts from the recent ceremony, the US has graciously returned a remarkable total of 278 cultural treasures to their rightful home in India since 2016.

The repatriation ceremony was also an occasion to foster an agreement between India and the US regarding Cultural Property. This collaborative effort aims to prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural artifacts, reinforcing the commitment of both nations to protect and preserve the world’s cultural heritage.

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