This article first appeared on the Skynews website
The 1000-year-old Ardhanariswara idol, depicting Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati, was on display at Sydney’s Art Gallery of NSW after being purchased during the tenure of former director, Edmund Capon.
However, it later emerged that the valuable stone sculpture was stolen from a temple in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
It was sold, along with five other items to the Art Gallery of NSW by New York dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Kapoor is now facing trial in India for allegedly trafficking stolen antiquities from two Indian temples, with museums around the world also said to be examining items bought from him.
The Australian Attorney-General’s department received a formal request from the Indian government to return the Ardhanariswara this month.
The statue depicts a hermaphrodite human form and is said to represent the synergy of man and woman’.
The Attorney-General’s department said India’s request to return the idol was being acted upon under Australia’s international obligations.
Delhi’s request stated that the statue was exported from India illegally.
The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has already agreed to return a dancing Shiva statue, which it bought in 2007 for $5.6 million from Kapoor.
It is understood that Mr Capon’s successor, Dr Michael Brand, is in favour of returning all six works that the Art Gallery of NSW bought from Kapon.