Eight ancient relics have reportedly gone missing from the Ponorogo regency administration hall in East Java.
Rizki Susantini, archeologist at the Trowulan Cultural Heritage Conservation Center (BPCB), said the missing artifacts included three fragments from the Nandi, Agastya and Ganesha statues. Two temple stones were also missing.
“The items, mostly statue fragments, dating from the East Javanese classical era between the 10th and 15th centuries, went missing due to a lack of attention from the local administration,” Rizki told reporters on Tuesday.
Rizki said the ancient statues were discovered missing when BPCB staff members were taking inventory on the number of ancient objects at the Ponorogo hall.
“While taking inventory, only 17 objects were accounted for, whereas in fact the total number should be 25,” said Rizki.
“We then went to Ponorogo two weeks ago to ask for confirmation [about the missing items] from the Ponorogo administration’s general affairs division, but it claimed it was not aware of the matter,” she added.
Rizki said her office had asked the Ponorogo administration to look for the eight missing artifacts.
Ponorogo administration household subdivision head Edy Sucipto promised to continue searching for the missing historical relics.
Separately, Ponorogo Culture, Tourism, Sports and Youth Office head Sapto Jatmiko said his office could not yet verify the report on the missing artifacts.
“We have yet to receive a written report from the BPCB archeological team,” said Sapto.
The missing artifacts join a long list of stolen relics, which have mostly not been recovered.
Previously, on Sept. 13 last year, precious artifacts from the ancient Mataram Kingdom period went missing from the National Museum in Central Jakarta.
The relics were a dragon-shaped plaque, a scripted crescent-shaped plaque and a Harihara plaque,
as well as a small gold box. Art observers believed that the artifacts had been smuggled out of the country.
On Aug. 10, 2010, 87 pieces of collections from the 8th and 9th centuries — ranging from gold jewelry, gold plates and statues — were stolen from Sonobudoyo Museum in Yogyakarta. The culprits were not discovered.
A bronze Buddha statue that was once coated in gold went missing from Balaputradewa Museum in South Sumatra’s provincial capital of Palembang on March 9, 2009. A week later, police resolved the crime.
Another artifact-related theft made headlines when the police discovered five stolen archaeological artifacts at businessman Hashim Djojohadikusumo’s house in Jakarta in November 2007.
The artifacts recovered were precious statues from the country’s Hindu-Buddhist era, allegedly part of a number of missing statues and valuables taken from Radya Pustaka Museum in Surakarta.
The police said they detained four suspects over the matter, including the museum’s curator KRH Darmodipuro.
The suspects said they copied the statues and put them in the museum before selling the originals to Hashim for more than Rp 500 million (US$42,863).
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