- The idol is of a goat-headed elf, originally belonging to a group of stone deities in sandstone.
- In October 2021, the Indian High Commission received information about the discovery of a goat-headed Yogini sculpture.
- In 2013, the Indian Embassy in Paris recovered a similar statue of Vrishna Yogini, a buffalo-headed elf.
New Delhi: Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy said on Saturday that a 10th century stone goat-headed yogini idol, illegally removed from a temple in Lokhri in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda, is being brought back to India. Earlier, the Indian High Commission in London had announced the recovery of the statue. The idol is of a goat-headed elf, who originally belonged to a group of stone deities in sandstone and was installed in the Lokhri temple.
Statue found in the garden of a private residence in London
This was the subject of a study by Indian scholar Vidya Dahejiya on behalf of the National Museum in New Delhi in 1986, which was later published under the title ‘Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantric Tradition’. In October 2021, the Indian High Commission received information about the discovery of a goat-headed elf sculpture, found in the garden of a private residence near London. It matched the description of the Lokhari collection. Lokhri is a small Village in Mau Sub-Division in Banda District of Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh.
A similar statue of an elf was also found in Paris
Singapore’s India Pride Project and London’s Art Recovery International Association promptly assisted the Indian High Commission in London with the identification and recovery of the statue, while the Indian High Commission prepared the required documents with local and Indian authorities. Similarly, in 2013, the Indian Embassy in Paris recovered a similar idol of Vrishna Yogini with the head of a buffalo, which was apparently stolen from the same temple in Lokhri village. The statue of this Vrishna Yogini was installed in the National Museum in New Delhi in September 2013.
The statue was sent to the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
The Yoginis are a group of powerful female deities associated with Tantric worship. They are worshiped as a group, often consisting of 64 and are believed to possess infinite powers. The goat-headed Yogini idol, which reached the High Commission in London on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti, was sent to the Archaeological Survey of India in New Delhi.