Customs officials at the Chennai airport seized a 400-year-old artefact on Wednesday, November 3. The artefact, a large brass Nritya Ganapati idol, was seized from a house in Kanchipuram. In an official statement, the Chennai Air Cargo Customs said that an attempt was being made to smuggle it out of the country from Kancheepuram.
During the investigation, it was found that the exporter from Chennai sent the idol to his supplier in Kanchipuram, to get it treated as per a clientâ€™s requirement and then facilitate the international smuggling. According to a Customs official, the idol was seized from the house of the supplier in Kancheepuram. The supplier worked for the party that was exporting the idol. The official further added that Customs had profiled the supplier based on a previous complaint. He also said that they searched the supplierâ€™s house after receiving â€śvery good intelligenceâ€ť and that the idol was seized from a locked room at his residence.
Further investigation into the matter is being conducted. The idol has been registered by the government and will be handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) upon completion of the investigation.
The idol, which weighs 130 kg and has a height of 5.25 feet, is not registered with the Archaeological Survey of India under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act. According to the Customs, Archaeological Survey of India experts who examined the idol stated that it is more than 400 years old and is datable to the Vijayanagara-Nayak period based on the iconographic details. The idol has been registered by the government.
The Customs statement said that marks of wear and tear were found on the idol, but the idol still showed fine details. This form of Ganapati is mostly found carved in stone and in paintings, but the metallic form of the Nritya Ganapati, especially of this size, is considered rare. The Nritya Ganapathi is believed to be worshipped by those wishing for proficiency in dance and fine arts. This idol is also the largest one seized by the Chennai Customs so far, it said.