By Katrina Brown Hunt
October 23, 2013

It’s sad when an ancient painting or fresco becomes almost unrecognizable due to vandalism or just time. But it may be even worse when it gets fixed so badly that it goes from “ruins” to “ruined.”

That seems to be the case with a nearly 300-year-old Buddhist fresco hanging in a temple in Chaoyang, in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning. The original paintings had been crumbling for years, and a recent “refurbishment” gave them a serious face lift, according to this article in the Daily Telegraph.

  • Indeed, tourist authorities hired contractors who re-did the paintings in a simplistic style that looks like it might play well on Saturday morning TV. Folks in China were outraged. “As a man from Chaoyang, I sincerely feel some people's brains were kicked by a donkey,” one resident posted on a local report.
  • Granted, a wise-cracking donkey might blend right in with the new tableau, which doesn’t even feature the same figures as the original. According to reports from China, two tourist officials got fired over the project. In time, though, perhaps the new fresco will get its own version of fame, or at least infamy. Case in point: Last year’s surprise tourist hit of a Spanish church’s fresco of Jesus, which was rehabbed crudely by a volunteer, and then described as “unspeakable,” and resembling a monkey.