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Standing Buddha in dharmacakra mudra (the teaching gesture)

Sandstone with traces of stucco and red paint

Burma/Myanmar; Pagan, from Kyaukku U Min temple. Property of the Union of Myanmar; under temporary custody at Northern Illinois University.

This beautiful piece surfaced at an auction at Sotheby’s in New York in 1991. Professor Emeritus Richard Cooler, Director-Founder of the Center for Burma Studies, recognized the statue and identified its provenance as commissioned by King Kyanzittha in the late 11th century and stolen in 1988 from the Kyaukku U Min temple, Pagan.

 Its all-too-rare recovery demonstrates how academic art historians can work together with the world of art dealers to protect cultural heritage.