Bangladesh and the Mus ée Guimet

mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Mon Jan 14 18:34:04 UTC 2008

The exhibition entitled "Chef-d'oeuvre du Delta du Gange:
Collections des musées de Bangladesh," which was
scheduled to open at the Musée Guimet in Paris late last
year, was abruptly cancelled owing to the purported
theft of two statues in the holding area of the Dakka
airport. This led one faction of the Bangladesh government
to accuse those responsible for negotiating the exhibition
with the French of having endangered the national
patrimony, leading then to the cancellation. The objects
were, in fact, soon recovered (causing some to suspect
that their "theft" had been cooked with the sole interest
of embarrassing political rivals and scuppering the 
exhibition), and, indeed, most materials had already
arrived in Paris, when Bangladesh demanded their
immediate return.

The catalogue, edited by Vincent Lefevre, and bearing the
same title as the exhibition, offers an excellent
introduction to and survery of the archeology and antiquities
of Bangladesh, and is particularly good on Buddhist
sites and art (with much from the Pala period). It will
no doubt be remaindered shortly, as museum catalogues
generally do not sell well except in the context of
the exhibitions they were meant to accompany. In this case,
the wealth of the objects depicted leads one to regret
very much that the show could not go on.

Matthew T. Kapstein
Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies
The University of Chicago Divinity School

Directeur d'études
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

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