India is asking Canada to return a 12th century statue that was allegedly stolen from a United Nations heritage site, but the Department of Canadian Heritage refuses to admit that it has the sculpture and maintains it is not obligated to return it.
The life-size sculpture of a woman with a parrot perched on one of her shoulders has been held by Canadian Heritage officials in Edmonton since 2011, according to the Economic Times, but because the Archaeological Survey of India cannot prove that the statue was stolen and no theft was ever reported, Canadian Heritage says it will not repatriate the work.
A picture of the statue, which most likely came from the Khajuraho site in northern India, is being distributed among Indian archaeologists, but thus far no one can figure out how the object ended up in Canada.
“The picture of the statue was first sent to the Bhopal circle office since Khajuraho comes under its jurisdiction,” Rakesh Tiwari, director general of the Archaeological Survey of India, told the Economic Times. “They have reported that there is no record of any theft of such a statue.”
Under the terms of Canada’s 1977 Cultural Property Export and Import Act, Indian authorities will have to prove that “the cultural property was illegally exported from that state,” Canada.com reports.
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