The Repatriation of lintels to Thailand
On 25 May 2021, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) together with the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles held a handover ceremony to return two sacred Thai lintels, one from Nong Hong Sanctuary and the other from Khao Loan Sanctuary, to the Thai Government. The ceremony was celebrated and attended by many distinguished guests including Special Agent in Charge David A. Prince, , HSI Los Angeles, Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, HSI San Francisco, Ms. Stephanie Hinds, Acting US Attorney Northern District of California, H.E. Mr. Manasvi Srisodapol, Thai Ambassador to the US, Mr. Mungkorn Pratoomkaew, Consul-General in Los Angeles, Mr. Pisanu Sophon, Consul-General in Chicago, and Mr. Fabio Chinda, Consul-General in New York.
The lintel from Nong Hong Sancutuary is hand carved with picture of Yama Deity, while the one from Khao Loan Sanctuary depicts Indra Deity on Kirtimukha or the glorious face. Both lintels are made from sandstone and are from Lopburi period (ancient Khmer arts period found in Thailand) dated back in 11th century. There are evident photos showing the lintels were installed as a part of architecture of the Nong Hong Sanctuary in Buriram Province and Khao Loan Sanctuary in Sa Kaew Province, respectively. It is believed that both of the sacred lintels were illegally exported from Thailand around 1960’s during Vietnam’s war.
The return of these antiquities holds great importance in terms of history, archeology, and culture to the Thai Government and the Thai people. The Royal Thai Consulate-General would like to express our gratitude and admiration to the relevant US agencies especially Homeland Security Investigation and Department of Justice for spending more than 3 years investigating and collecting relevant evidences, as well as coordinating closely with the Thai agencies and archeologists until the case successfully were closed. The close cooperation and partnership between the Thai and US agencies does reflect and ensure the cordial and longstanding relationships between the two countries.