A tug-of-war for a 1,500-year-old Vishnu statue unearthed by road workers with a bulldozer earlier this year is over, with Kratie province winning the right to display the sandstone sculpture, reportedly carved in Cambodia’s Chenla era, an official said on Monday.
Experts from the Culture and Fine Arts Ministry who inspected the statue have confirmed it is genuine, although an official report is still pending, said Tep Veasna, director of the provincial culture department.
Such authentic relics are supposed to be kept at the National Museum in Phnom Penh, but the ministry decided it could remain in the province as long as local culture officials are able to keep it secure, said Thai Noraksathya, a ministry spokesman.
Although the provincial museum is currently being renovated, the statue of Vishnu—a principal deity of Hinduism, one of Cambodia’s official religions that predated the area’s embrace of Buddhism—has already seen some guests.
Mr. Veasna said about 10 visitors, mostly foreigners, came to see the statue, which lost one arm while being excavated in January.