France returns head of Hindu statue taken 130 years ago

The head of a Hindu deity's statue from the 7th century has been returned by France to Cambodia.

The head was reattached to its body at a ceremony Thursday at the National Museum, more than 130 years after it was spirited away by French researchers from a temple in southern Takeo province. It had been displayed at France's Guimet Museum until now.

The sculpture is of Harihara, a deity that combines aspects of Vishnu and Shiva, the two most important gods in the Hindu pantheon who represent the creation of the universe and its destruction.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said that "according to our Khmer culture, the reunion is symbolic of prosperity."

He appealed to other countries that hold Cambodian artifacts to return them.