REPRESENTATIVES of the Foreign Ministry handed over 13 Ban Chiang antiquities that a Thai man in the US had returned to the country to the Fine Arts Department yesterday (Apr. 25), Matichon newspaper said.
Mr. Mali Nongyao, who lives in the US, had contacted the Thai Consulate General in Los Angeles that he wished to return five pottery vessels and eight bronze bracelets, all ancient Ban Chiang artefacts, to the country as national treasures.
Consul-General Mr. Tor Sornlump received the antiquities from Mali at Wat Bhuridattavanaram in California on March 14, 2023 and they were sent back to the country by diplomatic pouch on March 27, 2023.
It was yesterday that Mr. Phanombut Chantrachot, director-general of the Fine Arts Department, received these national treasures from Mr. Nattaphon Khanthahiran, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, and his representatives.
The ministry’s Thai Antiquities Tracking Committee has been working tirelessly on repatriation of Thai antiquities. In 2021 two ancient sandstone carvings, believed to have been stolen from Thailand and smuggled to the US during the Vietnam War, were repatriated.
The carvings were originally lintels – support beams – in temples dating back to the 10th century and feature the Hindu deities Indra and Yama.
It is believed the artefacts came from Prasat Khao Lon historical sanctuary, in Sa Kaeo province, and Prasat Nong Hong, in Buri Ram province.
For decades they had been on display in San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.
The repatriation of the two lintels encouraged Thais both within the country and overseas to likewise return antiquities to the country with 10 people having delivered 631 ancient items since then.
The five pottery vessels and eight bronze bracelets that Mr. Mali Nongyao returned to the country as national treasures. Photos: Matichon