Necklace of Taleju traced in Chicago

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Kathmandu, July 7: A new evidence relating to the necklace belonging to Taleju Bhawani of Hanumandhoka, which was found a year ago at the Art Institute of Chicago, USA, was traced paving a way for its homecoming.

The new evidence was discovered from the collection of the family of Taleju Bhawani’s priest. A hand-written scroll has been found as a record of all offered assistance, sculptures and jewelleries to theTaleju Temple.  

The hand-written scroll clearly mentions about the necklace with details and inscription. It notes a gilded stone inlaid with pearl string necklace with Asta Matrika images and inscribed with the donor’s name as king Pratap Malla, said Shyam Sundar Rajbanshi, an epigraphist. 

The hand-written inscription matched the inscription in the necklace, he said. 

Earlier, documentation relating to the necklace was not found at Guthi Sanstha, even though it is a responsible body to keep records. The authority started searching for the document relating to the necklace after the necklace was found on the display at the Art Institute of Chicago, United States, a year ago. 

“I knew about the necklace when Sweta Gyanu Baniya personally informed me when she visited the Art Institute of Chicago. Then, I started searching for documents relating to the necklace after no record was found at the Guthi Sansthan’s record office,” said Uddhav Man Karmacharya, main priest of Taleju Temple.

The hand-written scroll was found inside the Taleju Temple, he said, “After finding the bundle of hand written scroll I asked to call a well-known authorised epigraphist to decipher it even though I can also read the script. The script is written in Pali language.”

The hand written scroll is copied documentation of my grandfather’s times, he said. He was the main priest of Taleju Temple till 2009.

He further said that a high level investigation committee was formed in 1970 to keep the records of all offered donations and jewelleries in the name of Taleju. The records of offered assistance were kept in the presence of representatives from the then royal palace, Guthi Sansthan, Zonal Commissioner, Home Minister, Secret Department and the Culture Ministry, he said.

As per the hand written scroll, over 300 different kinds of ornaments, pots and gold and silver were offered in the name of Taleju. But nobody knows where the objects were taken to, he further said.

Recalling the childhood days, he said, “I had never seen such a necklace with the written script and now it is on display at the Chicago Museum. During my childhood, I visited Taleju Temple with my father and saw people weighing the offered ornaments and keeping their records. But, I had never seen it, maybe I missed it.”

Finally, the hand written script clearly mentions about origin nation of the necklace with details, he said, “I want to keep it safely digitising at the National Archives Office for future generation.” 

Taleju Temple is opened once a year on the day of Maha Navami of Dashain festival. “My wish is to open the temple in coming Dashain with the necklace after putting it in original place,” he said.

The necklace has been on display at Chicago museum for the last 27 years.

Sarita Subedi, archaeological officer at the Department of Archaeology, said that a letter has been dispatched to the Guthi Sanstha to provide the valuable written script after the priest found it.

Sanjaya Adhikari, a heritage activist and lawyer, told The Rising Nepal that they were pursuing diplomatic channels to repatriate the holy relics on 

the basis of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The DoA, the Kathmandu office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the relevant Embassy of Nepal have begun the process to 

bring the necklace and the idols back home, he said. 

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