Monday, January 9, 2012

Antiquities Smuggling through the Sunderbans

Today, this article came to my attention (via Museum Security Network). It concerns the recent busting of an antiques smuggling network through India's Sunderbans (the vast wetland formed by the superconfluence of the Brahmaputra, Padma and Meghna Rivers and their tributaries), into today's Bangladesh and Myanmar. According to the article, 11 people were arrested, but authorities had an inkling of this network's existance as far back as 2010. Due to its remoteness and primarily waterlogged state, artifact and people smuggling and wildlife poaching have proven difficult to patrol throughout this vast area.

The primary artifact confiscated in 2010 was a two-foot tall bust of the Buddha, but no mention is given in the article of the type or age of the antiques or antiquities most recently confiscated. Numerous cases involving the smuggling of historic period or ancient Hindu and Buddhist statuary and religious paraphernalia, sometimes boldly robbed from temples at night, have been reported in recent years, including on this blog (e.g. here and here). Now that those who appear to be the main ringleaders have been confiscated, we can wish the local and transnational authorities much success in all future raids and in getting to the bottom of just how extensive antique/antiquities smuggling is in the Sunderbans.

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