Lonely Planet Writer

Cleveland museum returns ancient statue to Cambodia

Cleveland museum of Art.
Cleveland Museum of Art. Image by Erik Drost / CC BY 2.0

The Cleveland Museum of Art has decided to return a 10th-century statue of Hanuman to Cambodia, after discovering that the popular sculpture might have been stolen during the country’s civil war. The 800-pound sandstone sculpture depicts the Hindu monkey god Hanuman and stands 3.5 ft high. It has been a much-loved piece in the museum since it was acquired in 1982, but new evidence suggests that the head and body of the statue were sold separately in Bangkok in 1968 and 1972 when the region was involved in both the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War.

Museum director William Griswold said of the decision to return the sculpture: ‘our research revealed a very real likelihood that it was removed from a site enormously important to the kingdom of Cambodia during a terrible time and its return was completely consistent with the highest legal and fiduciary standards.’ Griswold travelled to Phnom Penh on Sunday to sign documents along with Cambodia’s prime minister. Read more: cleveland.com