The family of a U.S. private collector, George Lindemann, has returned 33 stolen cultural artifacts to Cambodia, the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said in a statement on Wednesday.
The artifacts, removed from Cambodia in the 1990s, include a reclining Vishnu and Ardhanarishvara, a half-male-and-half-female sculpture believed to be from Prasat Krachap temple in the ancient royal city of Koh Ker, the statement said.
The returned national treasures also include a sculpture thought to be Drsthadyumna (commander in chief of the Pandava Army) from Prasat Chen temple in Koh Ker and the Asura and Deva heads from the Angkorian era.
Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona thanked the Lindemann Family for voluntarily returning those artifacts to the rightful owner, Cambodia, after negotiations for more than three years.
“This return sets an excellent and proper example for other museums and private collectors we have informed to follow and return our national treasures,” she said in the statement.
Sackona said the repatriation shows once again Cambodia’s continuing commitment to finding and bringing back the country’s ancestors’ souls that departed from their motherland.
“These returns significantly contribute to the reconciliation and healing of the Cambodian people who went through decades of civil war,” she said.
Koh Ker was a former capital of the Khmer Empire in the 10th century, which had been the target of large-scale theft for many years during the period of civil war and insecurity.