[Press Note] Laxmi-Narayan’s Return to Patko Tole, Patan

Press release for the 4 December 2021 event

After nearly four decades in custody of overseas collections, today, the statue of Laxmi-Narayan from Patko Tole near Patan Durbar Square is being reinstated in its original sanctum with the traditional jatra and rituals.

The statue of Laxmi-Narayan (Basudev-Kamalaja), in place at the two-tiered temple at Patko Tole for a thousand years, was stolen in 1984. Six years after its disappearance, the statue was displayed in the 1990 catalogue of the auction house Sotheby’s, then purchased by David T Owsley.

In 2019, the statue was confirmed to be in the holding of the Dallas Museum of Art of Texas, USA, transferred there from Owsley’s collection. An international effort spanning the Patko Tole community to the Nepal Government and the United States Government was successful in getting the museum to relinquish its custody of the piece.

After arriving in Kathmandu, the statue was handed over to the Patan Museum for safe custody on 16 April 2021. The Museum has made this statue a part of a current temporary exhibition of stone sculptures in its holdings.

Today’s consecration ceremony will involve the Patko Tole community and guests walking over to the Patan Museum at 11AM and bringing back Laxmi-Narayan in a palanquin, with appropriate musical accompaniment. The restoration of the statue to its original sanctum and plinth will be accompanied by appropriate chhyama puja and conducted by the community. Laxmi-Narayan will also don the special garment of copper that has been the responsibility of a clan within the community.

Arrangement for security of the returned statue has been made under the supervision of the Kathmandu University Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. These arrangements include infrared movement sensors, CCTV coverage, door alarm and lighting.

The many institutions who have made the restitution of Laxmi-Narayan to Nepal and Patko Tole possible include the following: Department of Archaeology, Patan Municipality, the Nepal Embassy in Washington DC, the American Embassy in Kathmandu, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (USA).

The discovery of the statue at the Dallas Museum was made by artist Joy Lynn Davis through internet image search over several years and located by a picture in an online blog. The return of the statue has also been supported by the work of heritage activists, journalists and scholars working independently over the years for the cause of heritage restitution.

The Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign is a coming together of individuals who have been engaged in the returning of Nepal’s stolen heritage and who have now registered a non-profit organisation. The group hopes to take energy and momentum from the return of Patko Tole’s Laxmi-Narayan, to ensure a methodical and organised campaign to ensure return of stolen items, as far as possible, to their original places.

Riddhi Baba Pradhan, Chair of the Campaign and former Director of the Department of Archaeology, says: “The return and restoration of stolen statues to their original temples and plinths is important because they are the centre of focus of communities, besides being a part of our culture and history. Tangible heritage as represented by the statuary is vital in keeping Nepal’s intangible heritage intact and vibrant, through associated rituals, processions and festivals. We in the Campaign hope that the return of Laxmi-Narayan to Patko Tole and the security features introduced will encourage other communities to work for the return of their stolen gods and goddesses.”

Further information on the return of Laxmi-Narayan, including articles and papers, can be accessed from the NHRC website.

NHRC Website:

Contact: Roshan Mishra, NHRC.

Tel: +977 9843722329