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Antique idols from Bengal’s Pala era seized in Madurai

Stone head believed to be belonging to the Pala period was seized by Tamil Nadu's Idol Wing (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@@jayantmuraliips)

Officials of the Tamil Nadu Police’s Idol Wing CID seized three antique sculptures from a handicrafts shop in Madurai on Monday. These include a stone carving figure of Shiva Parvati, a stone figure of a woman and a stone head of Buddha.

On inspecting these statues, an expert suggested that they belonged to the Pala dynasty which ruled Bengal region from 750 CE to 1161 CE, and probably were stolen from a temple in Andhra Pradesh or Odisha.

The stone-carved idol of Shiv-Parvati is 2.5-foot-tall while the figurine of a woman is two feet and the Buddha’s head made of stone is one-foot-tall.

When the officials of Idol Wing raided the shop Cottage Gallery in North Chithirai Street, the owner of the shop Jagur Ahmed Zarkar did not possess documents to prove his ownership of the three statues which were seized from the terrace of the premises. During the search, Zarkar along with three others was present in the shop.

Inspector Kavitha of Idol Wing said: “We are investigating further and the antique idols are being taken for physical verification.”

Once the idols are produced before the Kumbakonam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, they will be handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India.

Besides Kavitha, others in the raiding team were Senior Sub-Inspectors Selvaraj and Santhanakumar.