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Hunting for Nepal's stolen idols

Global awareness of widespread theft is leading to recoveries

Nepalese artifacts that were repatriated after being stolen. From left: the head of a 12th-century statue of the Hindu goddess Saraswati, a 10th-century Uma Maheshwar-themed stone carving, and a stone statue of Buddha. (Courtesy of the National Museum of Nepal)

KATHMANDU -- The dilapidated two-story Narayan Temple sits amid a jumble of four-story buildings near Kathmandu's historic Patan Durbar Square. For generations of Hindu devotees, the shrine's deity -- a half-male and half-female figure of Lakshmi Narayan -- was the focus of their worship, particularly for pregnant women seeking its blessings to ease their labor pains.

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