"Lost legs" of 12th century Buddhist sculpture discovered in Cambodia

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Phnom Penh (Cambodia), September 30 (ANI): The legs of a 12th century sandstone carving of the Buddhist deity Hevajra, which were missing, have been recovered from a historic site in Siem Reap province in Cambodia.

The bust of the statue is on display in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

According to a report in the Phnom Penh Post, the missing piece of the ancient sculpture was spotted by a British archaeologist this summer.

He had been trying to find the spot where French archaeologists first discovered the sculpture's remains in 1925 near Angkor Thom, the walled city of King Jayavarman VII (1125-1215).

Instead, to his amazement, he found the statue's legs "just lying there on the jungle floor".

Dr Peter Sharrock, a senior teaching fellow in the art and archaeology of Southeast Asia department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, said the French archaeologists must have removed the bust, but left the legs, unaware of the artefact's significance.

"This is a unique statue which I estimate to have been of exceptional importance in the time of King Jayavarman VII," he said.

Researchers hope further excavation could reveal other missing fragments.

"The discovery may produce further parts of the Hevajra, but it may also give us some clues as to why and when it was apparently broken and buried with other important Buddhist icons at this place in the forest," Sharrock said.

The legs are now in the care of the Sihanouk Angkor Museum in Siem Reap, but experts hope they will be reunited with the bust in New York.

According to Hab Touch, director of the National Museum of Cambodia, "We want to put the pieces together. Not one piece there and one over here. We (US and Cambodian officials) will sort it out together."

"Only when the statue has been fully restored will people be able to fully grasp its significance," Sharrock said. (ANI)

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