Galleries need new standards for collecting precious artefacts

06 Jul 2013 1:56 PM | Anonymous
Galleries need new standards for collecting precious artefacts
    Ardhanarishsvara in AGNSW

    A visitor this week to the Art Gallery of NSW gazes at the statue of Ardhanarishvara; key questions about the provenance of this Indian artefact remain unanswered. Picture: Nikki Short Source: The Australian

    IT takes about seven minutes to walk from the Art Gallery of NSW, across the Domain in Sydney to the gallery's sister institution, the State Library of NSW.

    Had curators at the gallery made that walk in 2004, before they finalised the $300,000 acquisition of a magnificent 1000-year-old rock carving of Ardhanarishvara, an androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati, with the bull Nandi, they might have become suspicious that the carving had been stolen.

    In the library's reference section there's a copy of Douglas E. Barrett's 1974 book Early Cola Architecture and Sculpture, 866-1014AD. The library's copy is one of 21 copies of the revered archeologist's landmark publication that can be found in public institutions across the nation.

    Among a limited number of pictures in the book of Chola-era carvings photographed at Indian temples is No 54, a stone Ardhanarishvara with Nandi in Vriddhachalam in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the AGNSW's Ardhanarishvara.

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