Post #498 • March 22, 2005, 7:44 AM • 4 Comments
Jane Perlez for the New York Times: A Cruel Race to Loot the Splendor That Was Angkor.
In the past six months, a head of one of the figures was gouged from the rock, said Sin Sokhorn, a Cambodian guide who often comes to the site by motorcycle. A scar in the rock marked the place where looters had hacked at the statue, leaving a crumpled, headless torso.
The head was probably on display in an antiquities shop in Bangkok or in a European city with a handsome price tag, he mused. Or, he suggested, it could be in a private collection of Angkor art, secure from prying eyes.
Despite a Unesco convention outlawing the import or export of Cambodian cultural artifacts in the United States, which has helped curtail illicit acquisition, the looting of Angkor Wat continues at a troublesome rate.
It would be nice if they could do what they did at the Acropolis Museum to protect the friezes and caryatids - place the originals in a museum and put copies on the site. According to the article, though, a concrete replica was put in place of one stolen Buddha head, and the replica was stolen as well.
Notice to looters: do you remember the Buddhas that the Taliban destroyed? Do you remember what happened to the Taliban shortly thereafter? Buddhists have a term for it: karma.