50 ancient idols, statues of deities restored

Kathmandu, January 5

Hanumandhoka Museum has successfully restored around 50 statues and idols of deities that were damaged or disfigured in the 2015 earthquakes.

The museum had hired three chemists of the Department of Archaeology for the purpose. A seventh century statue of Lord Goraknath of  Kasthamandap, which was broken into two pieces after the temple collapsed  in the earthquake, has now been restored. The famous Radha-Krishna idol,  Mahankal idol,Chaturmukh Shiva linga idol and Radha Rukmani idol that were severely damaged in the earthquakes, have also been restored.

Restoration of ancient idols and statues needs painstaking patience and meticulousness. First, such idols and statutes need to be revitalised as most of them are fragile due to continuous exposure to water and other things, said Grihaman Singh Shrestha, one of the chemists hired by the museum.

“Vermilion powder, ghee, oil, oil lamps, water, dairy products and other edibles placed or smeared on idols play a crucial role in degradation of the  statues. Similarly, incrustation, lime formation and enamel paintings  also damage the surface and intricate carvings in idols and statues, ” added Shrestha.

The statues revived through the use of various chemicals like xylene are then cleaned using alcohol and made to go through a neutralisation process using soap and dilute ammonia solution for several days. The broken pieces of statues are then bonded together using epoxy resin.  In the final stage, the statues receive consolidation and preservative coating.

The  initiative taken by Hanumandhoka Museum to restore damaged idols is appreciable. However, many of similar ancient idols and statutes around Kathmandu Valley remain neglected in the custody of local guthis.

Spokesperson for DoA Ram  Bahadur Kunwar said, “We don’’t have actual data on the number of idols and statues that need to be restored.” He, however, said that locals themselves must have restored many of such statues and idols.

Kaji Pyakurel, chief of Patan  Museum, said they didn’t know how many  ancient idols and statues were damaged in the earthquakes. “But most of them have been restored in their respective temples and shrines,” he added.

The idol of Hari  Shankar in Patan that was broken into two pieces in the earthquakes has already been restored.

Similarly, a volunteer group from Vienna University of Austria has restored the statue of Yog Narendra Malla.

Pyakurel also said that valuables like  gold and crystal that were found beneath the Macchendranath temple in Patan were kept safely by the authorised guthi.