India v. Pakistan: The Dancing Girl from Mohenjo-daro


Archaeology, partition, museum loans, and a big dispute over a small statue

In 1926 English Archaeologist Ernest Mackay excavated a tiny, beautiful, 4,500-year-old statuette of a girl at the archaeological site of Mohenjo-daro. At the time, Mohenjo-daro was in British-controlled Colonial India. Now it is squarely in modern Pakistan.

The problem?

Well, I saw The Dancing Girl this week in New Delhi. India.


Pakistan says: “It was taken to India around 60 years ago at the request of the National Arts Council, Delhi, and was never brought back”. Or maybe it was taken to Delhi by archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler before partition. Unclear. Either way, many believe it belongs in Pakistan. Others disagree FIERCELY.

“We are writing to the federal government to help us repatriate our exiled heroine back to us from India” 

Suffice to say, Pakistan and India don’t have a great relationship and it is no surprise, then, that they are in a dispute over this iconic ancient piece.

Here are some recent articles about the claim:

I’ve been hearing about her for years and years and finally got to see her in person. She’s really small! A lot of fight over a very tiny girl! Here are my (not so great) photos of her. Enjoy!