EM – India discovers a priceless stone idol of the 10th century goat-headed yogini from London


The sculpture depicts a goat-headed yogini who originally belonged to a group of stone deities carved in sandstone and installed in the Lokhari Temple.

India recovered and repatriated a stone idol from 10th-century London , which had been stolen from a temple in Lokhari by Uttar Pradesh’s Banda in the 1980s. The Indian High Commission in London confirmed the salvage of the special idol.

The sculpture depicts a goat-headed yogini who originally belonged to a group of stone deities carved in sandstone and installed in the Lokhari Temple. These were the subject of a 1986 study by Indian scholar Vidya Dahejia for the National Museum in New Delhi, later published as Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantric Tradition.

The sculpture in question is known to have briefly appeared on the London art market in 1988. In October 2021, the High Commission of India received information about a goat-headed Yogini sculpture matching the description of the Lokhari set in the garden of a private home near London.

The India Pride Project, Singapore, and Art Recovery International , London, quickly assisted the Indian High Commission in London in identifying and recovering the statue, while the High Commission of India processed the necessary paperwork with local and Indian authorities.

Interestingly, a similar sculpture of the buffalo-headed Vrishanana Yogini, apparently stolen from the same temple in Lokhari village, was found and repatriated by the Embassy of India in Paris in 2013.

The Vrishanana Yogini was exhibited at the National Museum in New York in September 2013. installed in Delhi. Lokhari village is located in Mau subdivision of Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. In connection with the tantric mode of worship, yoginis are viewed as a group of powerful female deities. They are worshiped as a group, often 64, and are believed to possess infinite powers.

The goat-headed yogini who arrived at the High Commission on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti becomes Archaeological Survey of India, New -Delhi, sent. Last November, India received an idol of the goddess Annapurna, which was stolen from Varanasi and retrieved from Canada about 100 years ago.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy had said that a total of 42 rare cultural heritage artifacts had been brought back to India since 2014 . He had also said that between 1976 and 2013 only 13 rare statues and paintings could be brought to India. Currently 157 sculptures and paintings have been identified abroad.

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