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China: Around The Nation

Chinese Buddha reliefs no longer at one, as 10 heads go missing

Police in Sichuan province on hunt for suspected thieves of centuries-old stone relics that could be worth US$4,500

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 2:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 2:39pm

Police have launched an investigation after 10 Buddha heads went missing from a stone relief in southwest China, mainland media reported.

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The carvings date back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and were cut into a rock face in Jiajiang county, Sichuan province, near the former home of Pang Degong, a famed scholar from the Han dynasty (206BC-AD220), Sina.com reported on its news website on Tuesday.

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A frequent visitor to the site, 69-year-old Zhou Faxi, said he noticed the heads were missing on Sunday and reported the matter to the local police, it said.

An official from the local cultural relics protection department, who was not named, was quoted as saying that an initial investigation suggested the heads were stolen on Saturday. He did not provide any other details.

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A local antiques dealer estimated that the Buddha heads could be worth about 3,000 yuan (US$450) each on the black market, the report said.

A total of 53 Buddha statues and reliefs are carved into the rock face, which attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims from across China and around the world every year.