After undertaking a two-year-long research into Ashoka’s stone and bronze sculptures in South Asian countries, former Bharat Kala Bhavan director D. P. Sharma says it is high time that the Union Culture Ministry brought back rare ancient Indian art objects from abroad and displayed them in exhibitions across the country.
“Over the years, Buddhist travellers from China, Japan and other South Asian countries visiting India for pilgrimage have been gifted mementos and bronze sculptures of Ashoka. In 2001, an international exhibition of four great civilizations was mounted at established museums in Tokyo and Nagaya, where art objects from India, China, Egypt and Iraq were put on display. From India, art objects from the Indus Valley Civilisation were displayed. I led this delegation.”
Fortunately for Dr. Sharma, the Chinese delegation had brought a rare statue, which after meticulous examination he discovered was of Ashoka and had come from an ancient kingdom based on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.