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Oxford University to Return 500-Year-Old Hindu Saint Sculpture to India

Oxford University is returning a 500-year-old statue of the Hindu saint Tirumankai Alvar to India. Displayed at the Ashmolean Museum, the sculpture may have been looted from an Indian temple. This follows global discussions on the rightful ownership of historic artefacts, including the Koh-i-noor diamond and Parthenon marbles.
Oxford University will hand back a 500-year-old bronze sculpture of the Hindu saint Tirumankai Alvar to India.

The statue, almost 60cm tall and dating back to the 16th century, had been displayed at the Ashmolean Museum.

The Indian high commission made a claim for the sculpture, which might have been looted from an Indian temple.

The University of Oxford’s council supported this claim on 11 March 2024, pending approval from the Charity Commission.

This decision follows similar actions by Oxford and Cambridge to consider returning other historically significant artefacts, such as the Benin bronzes to Nigeria.

The issue of rightful ownership of prized artefacts extends further, with India, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan laying claims to significant items like the Koh-i-noor diamond, part of the British crown jewels since 1849.

Additionally, Greece continues to campaign for the return of the Parthenon marbles.
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