Chinese authorities are coming under fire and two municipal officials have reportedly lost their jobs over a controversial, cartoon-like restoration that has covered ancient Buddhist frescos.
The botched effort occurred at the nearly 300-year-old Yunjie Temple in the city of Chaoyang in Liaoning province, located in the northeastern part of the country, bordering North Korea.
The temple's abbot had requested restoration of its delicate and crumbling painted frescos, which date back to the early Qing Dynasty era. The ancient relics were subsequently painted over completely with bright, simplistic, cartoon-like figures, depicting different scenes and Taoist characters.
An official in charge of temple affairs as well as city's head of cultural heritage monitoring have been dismissed over the incident, according to Chinese media.
A blogger first posted photos of the completed "restoration" effort, which sparked widespread public condemnation via Chinese social media. After seeing the images on the internet, Chaoyang officials launched an investigation.
Restoration work on the temple had been approved at the city level, but cultural heritage experts were not consulted to ensure proper adherence to standards, city official Li Haifeng told The Global Times.
A local firm that was not qualified to conduct such cultural repairs was hired to do the work, he said.
Officials continue to investigate the incident and further reprimands could be forthcoming.