Statue of Yogini handed over to Indian High Commission in London, stolen from UP

London : The 10th century stone idol of Goat-headed Yogini was handed over to India by the High Commission of India, London, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. An announcement was made for the recovery and repatriation of an illegally removed idol from a temple in Lokhri in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda. It is being said that this idol was stolen in the 1980s. The goat-headed Yogini idol was carved in sandstone and belonged to a group of stone deities installed in the Lokhri temple.

These were the subject of a 1986 study by Indian scholar Vidya Dahiya on behalf of the National Museum in New Delhi, which was later published under the title ‘Yogini Cults and Temples: A Tantric Tradition’. It turns out that the said sculpture appeared sometime in 1988 at the art market in London. In October 2021, the High Commission of India received information about a goat-headed elf sculpture.

The India Pride Project, Singapore and Art Recovery International, London assisted the High Commission of India in London expeditiously in the identification and recovery of the statue. Interestingly, a similar idol of Vrishna Yogini with the head of a buffalo, apparently stolen from the same temple in Lokhri village, was recovered by the Embassy of India, Paris in 2013. Vrushna Yogini was installed in September 2013 at the National Museum, New Delhi. Lokhri village is located in Mau sub-division of Banda district of Uttar Pradesh.

Associated with the Tantric system of worship, yoginis are seen as a group of powerful female deities. They are worshiped as a group, often 64 and believed to have infinite powers. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the goat-headed yogini received in the High Commission is being sent to the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi. In November last year, India found an idol of Goddess Annapurna, which was stolen from Varanasi nearly 100 years ago and retrieved from Canada.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy had said that since 2014 till now, a total of 42 rare heritages have been returned to India. He also said that only 13 rare sculptures and paintings could be brought to India between 1976 and 2013. At present, 157 sculptures and paintings have been identified abroad.