10th century idol of Goat Head Yogini stolen from UP temple returned to India
A 10th century stone idol of Goat Head Yogini that had been illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari village in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh is being returned to India, Union Minister of Culture G Kishan Reddy announced on Saturday.
"Repatriation of our rightful artifacts continues: 10th Century Goat Headed Yogini Idol which had been illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari, Uttar Pradesh is being returned to India from UK. @NarendraModi Govt is committed to realise the Civilisational Glory of Maa Bharati," the minister said in a tweet.
The Ministry of Culture informed that the stone idol had been stolen 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, it said.
According to the statement, 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 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," the ministry said.
Following this, India Pride project Singapore and Art Recovery International, London assisted Indian High Commission in London in the identification and recovery of the statue.
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, the ministry said.