New Delhi, 15 January 2022: The Union Minister of Culture, Tourism and DONER, G. Kishan has announced that a 10th century stone idol of Goat Head Yogini that had been illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari, Banda, Uttar Pradesh is being returned to India. Announcing this in a tweet today, the Culture Minister said that the repatriation of our rightful artifacts continues.
Earlier, the High Commission of India in London said that it is happy to announce the recovery and repatriation of a very special 10th century stone idol that had been illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari, Banda, Uttar Pradesh in sometimes the 1980s.
The sculpture is of a goat headed Yogini that originally belonged to a group of stone deities in sandstone and installed in Lokhari temple. These had been the subject of a study by Indian scholar Vidya Dahejia on behalf of National Museum in New Delhi in 1986 which was later published under the title, “Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantrik Tradition.
It is learned that the said sculpture had briefly surfaced in the art market in London in 1988. In October 2021, High Commission of India received information about the finding of a goat-headed Yogini Sculpture that had matched the description of the Lokhari set, in the garden of a private residence near London.
India Pride project Singapore and Art Recovery International, London swiftly assisted High Commission of India, London in the identification and recovery of the Statue while the High Commission of India processed the requisite documentation with local and Indian authorities.
Interestingly, a similar sculpture of the buffalo-headed Vrishanana Yogini, apparently stolen from the same temple at Lokhari village had been recovered and repatriated by Embassy of India, Paris in 2013. Thee Vrishanana Yogini was installed in the National Museum, New Delhi in September 2013.
Lokhari is a small village situated in the Mau sub-division in Banda district of Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh. Yoginis are a group of powerful females divinities associated with the Tantrik mode of worship. They are worshipped as a group, often 64 and are believed to possess infinite powers.
The Goat head Yogini received at the High Commission on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti has been dispatched to the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.