| A statue of the dancing Kartikeya. Picture by Deepak Kumar
Patna, April 10: It is a piece of Patna in Paris that will give every citizen of Bihar reason to brag about.
It all happened last year when a French archaeological team visited the Patna Museum and could not just take their eyes off the dancing Kartikeya or Chakrapurusha put up at the stone section.
Even the former Archaeological Survey of India director general, MC Joshi, who had guided the team did not reveal much to the museum authorities that Chakrapurusha would be on his way to the French capital.
An exclusive exhibition of artefacts of the Gupta Period is on in Paris, and Patna got its French connection by sending the two stone sculptures.
While director of state museums Sahdeo Kumar would have been happier to send more Gupta Period (320 AD to 600 AD) sculptures like the huge yagna platform and idols of Vishnu and Sun gods, he is thrilled with the representation still.
“Or else it would have been an anomaly of sorts as Bihar has a lot to do with the golden age of the Gupta Period having Chandragupta, Samudragupta and Chandragupta II or Vikramaditya,” Kumar told The Telegraph.
Kumar said the bi-facial black stone — Kartikeya — is shown dancing in different postures. The fifth century stone sculpture was found from Maharawan in Nawada district, he informed.
The other artefact sent for the exhibition is a fragmentary part of a halo depicting a flying Gandharva. It, however, is not known for certain if the piece, called Siraschakra, is a part of Buddha’s halo.
“The halo of Sarnath Buddha shows flying Gandharva but historians and archaeologists are divided over the Siraschakra,” said Kumar.
The Patna museum, set up in 1917, has a sizeable collection of the Gupta Period. Prominent among them are a grey sandstone statue of a lady shown talking to a parrot, the figures of Kartikeya, Agni and Ganesha from Mundeshwari (Kaimur).
The museum also boasts of a good collection of Gupta coins.
The museum, said one of its senior officials, had the pride of sending its collections to USA and Australia, too. “It could not send some artefacts to Belgium last year because of the theft of 18 bronze and ashthdhatu statues (all recovered by the CBI later),” he added.
The state culture department has now provided a three-tier security to the museum by raising boundary heights, increasing lighting in peripheral areas and shielding windowpanes with steel wires. Its two staff members were suspended on theft charges.
Kumar said: “We are not deterred by any local, national or international mafia and will keep sending our artefacts to other countries.”
He added that a valuation committee, having historians and archaeologists on its panel, decide the value of an artefact on the basis of its rarity, period and artistic quality. He, however, did not disclose the values of dancing Kartikeya and Siraschakra, which were sent to Paris.
Kumar also informed that “there is a wall-to-wall insurance cover for the relics”. “If there is even minimum damage from carrying an object from our wall or place to the exhibition wall, a partial insurance will be claimed.”