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Focus: GS-I Art and Culture, Prelims

Why in news?

A long-pending case of idol theft finally saw an important development as Natesa, a rare sandstone idol in the 9th century Prathihara style of Rajasthan, is returning to India after 22 years.


  • The Natesa icon, currently at the Indian High Commission, London, was originally from the Ghateswara Temple, Baroli, Rajasthan.
  • The sandstone Natesa figure stands tall at almost 4 ft. in a rare and brilliant depiction of Shiva in the late 9th century Prathihara style of Rajasthan.
  • A beautiful depiction of Nandi is shown behind the right leg of the Natesa icon.

The Theft (Not important, just an interesting read)

  • The statue was stolen in 1998 and based on an expose in a book the Rajasthan Police opened an investigation into one Vaman Ghiya’s Operation Blackhole.
  • Ghiya was arrested in 2003, standing accused of having stolen 20,000 pieces of art and laundering them.
  • Ghiya was eventually acquitted by the High Court, partially because India had not repatriated even a single piece of art allegedly smuggled abroad by Ghiya.

Prathihara style

Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty

  • The Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty was an imperial power during the Late Classical period on the Indian subcontinent, that ruled much of Northern India from the mid-8th to the 11th century.
  • They ruled first at Ujjain and later at Kannauj.
  • The Gurjara-Pratiharas were instrumental in containing Arab armies moving east of the Indus River.

Their Style

  • Gurjara-Pratihara are known for their sculptures, carved panels and open pavilion style temples.
  • The greatest development of their style of temple building was at Khajuraho, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Baroli temples complex are eight temples, built by the Gurjara-Pratiharas, is situated within a walled enclosure. All nine temples are under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India for conservation and protection.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024