PREAH VIHEAR PROVINCE, Cambodia (AP) – Rising out of the jungle on white pillars, the new Preah Vihear Museum’s largest building stands empty. But Cambodian officials hope that one day it will be the place where nine ancient statues depicting a dramatic battle scene are reunited from around the world.
They came a step closer to that goal last week, when Sotheby’s auction house in New York agreed to return one of the statues to Cambodia, ending a heated legal battle that began when the US government filed a lawsuit last year at Cambodia’s initiative to press for its return.
The decision marks the latest progress in efforts to bring back together the nine figures that once formed a tableau in a tower of the 1,000-year-old Prasat Chen temple.
The scene captured a famous duel in Hindu mythology in which the warrior Duryodhana is struck down by his cousin Bhima at the end of a bloody war of succession while seven attendants look on.