Ancient statue returning to Cambodia

16th Dec 2013

Cambodia's rich heritage of cultural sites and religious tourism is set to be enhanced still further by the return of an ancient statue valued at over £1 million.

A recent agreement on the 10th-century Khmer Hindu warrior treasure places the spotlight once again on Cambodian sculptures from the Koh Ker region.

This once-thriving Khmer metropolis deep in the northern jungles of the country is known as a lavish temple complex depicting epic Hindu sculptures.

Visitors on city breaks to Angkor Wat can take in a trip to Koh Ker as it is only 75 miles away.

The city boasts Cambodia's most famous tourist attraction: the 12th-century Angkor Wat temple - the world's biggest religious monument.

It drew more than a million visitors in the first half of this year alone.

Cambodia's second most-celebrated temple is the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple, which offers tourists the most spectacular view of all the temples built during the Khmer empire (802-1431).

The soon-to-be-returned Duryodhana, which is valued at more than 2 million dollars (£1,226,918), had stood at Prasat Chen for a millennium.

The statue, which appeared on the catalogue cover of Sotheby's auction house, is described as an unrivalled masterwork.

The catalogue said: "If one could choose only one sculpture to represent the glory of Khmer art, this figure could fulfil such a challenge."

Cambodian government spokesman Ek Tha called the agreement "great news".

He said: "I'm sure the spirits of the Khmer ancestors who built the statue will be right there, standing and smiling when the statue (comes) back."

The Duryodhana will be returned to Cambodia under an agreement by Sotheby's, its client and federal officials.

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