‘How Did It Come Here?’: Nepal Seeks to Bring Home Lost Treasures


A video posted on social media by Virginia Tech professor Sweta Gyanu Baniya has made a Nepali artifact one of the latest targets for heritage activists sleuthing online to try to bring home some of the thousands of items whisked out over decades from the Himalayan country. In the video, Baniya sees an ornate 17th century Nepali necklace in the Art Institute of Chicago, bursts into tears, bows down, and begins to pray. Baniya’s Twitter video prompted Nepali authorities to contact the museum to seek its return.

“Our art for us is not just art, they are gods to us,” said heritage expert Rabindra Puri, who campaigns to repatriate stolen Nepali heritage and has assembled a collection of replicas for a planned museum on the issue.

In March, the Dallas Art Museum and the FBI returned a stolen 12th to 15th century androgynous stone sculpture of Hindu deities Laxmi-Narayan to Nepal. This month, it will be reinstalled in its original temple location, from where it disappeared in 1984.

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