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Ancient Buddhist Frescoes in China Got Painted Over with Cartoons

So far, the temple affairs head and the the cultural heritage monitoring team lead have both lost their jobs, and the Communist party chief in charge of the area has been scolded

(Not the temple in question) Photo: Kok Leng Yeo

Two officials in charge of cultural affairs in China lost their jobs after “restoring” 270-year-old Buddhist frescoes by painting over them with cartoon-like murals, the BBC reports. A Chinese blogger broke the news, which sparked a government investigation of the temple, located in Liaoning, a province in northeastern China. Their investigations revealed the following chain of events, the BBC writes: 

Permission for the work to go ahead was given by city-level cultural heritage officials after a request by the temple abbot.

But it should have been sought from the cultural heritage office at provincial level to ensure national standards were followed. This had not happened, Mr Li said.

The project was given to a local firm which was not qualified for carrying out repair works on cultural relics, the official said.

You can see a before-and-after slideshow of the paintings here.

So far, the head of temple affairs and the lead of the cultural heritage monitoring team have both lost their jobs. The Communist party chief in charge of the area has also been scolded, the BBC reports, although government officials told a local newspaper that more people will likely be punished.

Across China, citizens are digitally voicing their outrage over the botched restoration. The Raw Story collects a few of those reactions:

“As a man from Chaoyang, I sincerely feel some people’s brains were kicked by a donkey,” wrote a user with the online handle Brave Brick.

“I should have cut the frescos down with a knife and brought them home if I had predicted this.”

Another poster said: “Ignorance is horrible!”

More from Smithsonian.com:

Great Wall of China Collapses After Torrential Rains 
China Will Stop Harvesting Organs from Prisoners in November 
 

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