Two  Khmer statues are to be returned to Cambodia — decision made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The statues in question are two  kneeling attendants which are said to come from the 10th century Khmer temple Prasat Chen in the Koh Ker area. This raises the question if other statues will follow suit — comparable pieces are at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and the Denver Art Museum. There is already a law suit about a piece that Sotheby’s is trying to sell on behalf of a client which is said to come from the same temple area.  Many of these pieces — attendants, warriors, guardians — found there way through Thailand during  the 1970s and were eventually acquired in good faith by international collectors.
In a May 16, 2013 article the NYT states that Cambodian officials with the help of scholars from the French School of Asian Studies in Paris have worked together to track these statues that they believe were looted from Koh Ker during the tragic years of the Khmer Rouge. I am reminded of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) founded 1900 in Hanoi in what was then French Indochina, and in charge now and then of conservation of the archeological site of Angkor. The first books many of us read about Cambodia were bulletins published by EFEO and the Musee Guimet.
Who is protecting the guardians now?
Elisabeth and Natasha
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