The news of stolen art being returned back to Nepal has made us all feel good and thankful. Clearly there is a huge demand for the art and craft created by Nepali artists in the global marketplace. Many in Nepal are in the habit of calling our heritage as “priceless” until they get stolen and put out for sale to the highest bidders.
The earthquake of 2015 and the recovery work that has been taking place is ample proof that Nepali artists are very capable of producing masterpieces and restoring and replacing any art pieces and in all medium. It would therefore be a good idea to launch a campaign to have local artists create a replica of the returned original masterpieces and gift it to people who return them along with a thank you note.
The idea is to engage artists and ensure that their skills and knowledge are preserved as a living tradition and to encourage more people and institutions to return stolen art back to Nepal. These art pieces then need to be placed in the temples and shrines from where they were stolen. It will still be a challenge to get the communities to assure security and the prevention of future theft.
Placing them in glass boxes in museums should only be the second option. These sacred objects were made for worship and devotion by locals on a daily basis, and not as a tourist attraction.
We should aspire to have a piece of Nepali art in every living room and garden in the world. We need to let the world know that they do not need to steal, just go to an artist and have a replica crafted.