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Stolen Buddhist painting to be returned to Korea

Posted December. 07, 2016 07:07,   

Updated December. 07, 2016 07:24

Songkwang temple's "Obuldo" that was stolen will return to Korea on Thursday. "We've recently received Obuldo that was kept at Portland Museum in the U.S., and will return to Korea through Incheon International Airport tomorrow morning," said the Cultural Heritage Administration and the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Obuldo will first be kept at the Buddhism Central Museum in central Seoul and be moved to Songkwang temple where it belonged.

Obuldo, one of the Painting of Fifty-Three Buddhas, is 117 centimeters wide, 157 centimeters long, was produced in 1725. The Painting of Fifty-Three Buddhas has been kept at the Buljojeon hall of Songkwang temple, and is composed of one Chilbuldo, two Gubuldo, two Shipsabuldo and two Obuldo. One missing part of Obuldo has to be found.

American Robert Matielli purchased Obuldo in early 1970s from an antique dealer in central Seoul and donated it at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine in 2014. The existence of Obuldo and the fact that it had been stolen was found out by the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of Korea. Afterwards, the Cultural Heritage Administration and the Jogye Order persuaded the owner and the museum for the return and they finally agreed.

Sang-Un Kim sukim@donga.com