A public relations stunt of epic proportions sparked heated debate earlier this week in China over whether two giant nude sculptures were art or public offense.
Hoping to attract more customers to a hot pot restaurant in the city of Jinan, located in north China's Shandong province, a restaurant owner installed two naked sculptures of “naughty children,” which many seem to have mistaken for Buddhas. The sculptures were positioned over the walls of the restaurant, situated in a bustling shopping area, the Xinhua news agency reports.
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Some speculated that the sculptures were a reference to the Chinese soup dish “fo tiao qiang" -- translated as "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall" -- which uses some of the most expensive ingredients in Chinese cuisine, including abalone, sea cucumber and dried maw, per the Global Post. According to folklore, the dish is so tasty it could entice monks to “come running from their temples to partake of the non-vegetarian delight,” notes Xinhua.
Pictures of the nude sculptures went viral after they were posted to Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo then redistributed by state-run media outlet China News, causing mixed views on whether the installations merit the classification of “art.”
“I burst into tears when I saw naked Buddhas climbing over the wall! How come a nation with a thousand-year history has so little respect for its own culture?” Miaoming, a Buddhist practitioner from the Beihai Zen Monastery in Qinghai province, wrote on his blog, per the South China Morning Post.
The statues were removed Monday evening. Local authorities said they were not involved.