Police in SW China’s Sichuan offer up to $7,718 in rewards to assist in search of stolen 1000-year old Buddha statues
Published: Aug 17, 2021 07:48 PM
Screenshot from Sina Weibo

Screenshot from Sina Weibo

Police in Guangyuan city, Southwest China's Sichuan Province will reward tip-off providers up to 50,000 yuan ($7,718) if they have information that can help in the search of 23 Buddha statues carved on precipices in the Foziyan scenic spot in Wangcang county that have been stolen. 

The public security bureau of Wangcang county issued the reward notice on August 9 claiming that 12 whole Buddha statues and 11 heads of stone Buddha statues were stolen. In order to solve the case as soon as possible, the authority will now solicit clues from the public. Those who provide clues that are crucial to solving the case will be offered rewards of as much as 50,000 yuan. 

A staffer surnamed Ren from the cultural relics department of the Guangyuan city's cultural bureau told the Global Times on Tuesday that it is hard to estimate the losses of the stolen statues at the moment and whether the statues can be restored will be decided by cultural relic experts. 

A policeman surnamed Liu in charge of the case told the Global Times on Tuesday that the authority has already been tipped off since the reward notice was issued, but the case is still under investigation. 

According to the administration office of cultural relics protection in Wangcang county, they found some of the Buddha statues missing during a routine patrol in late January this year and reported the case to the police. Most of the stolen Buddha statues were small ones with a height of about 15 centimeters and a width of 8 centimeters.

So far, 13 people have been held accountable for the incident including eight who are being dealt with by the organization and five who have been filed for investigation.

The Buddha statues carved on the precipices of the Fozishan Mountain date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) over 1,000 years ago, and are classified as provincial-level cultural relics. 

The local police solicited clues for the stolen statues on the Stolen (Lost) Cultural Relics Information Publishing Platform of China as early as March. A total of 15 pieces of information of the stolen statues were released. 

The photos of the Buddha statues with heads missing released by the police show that there were obvious traces of cuts, which were sprayed with blue paint. 

According to Red Star News, the statues, located in the sparsely-populated mountain with thick forests, are surrounded by locked fence walls built about 10 years ago. Surveillance cameras were installed around the fence walls in March and April this year. At present, all people are forbidden to enter the Foziyan scenic spot. 

An archaeological survey jointly conducted by Guangyuan Huangze Temple Museum and the Chengdu City Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute into the grottoes of Buddha statues in the Wangcang county in 2001 found Foziyan had the largest-scale Buddha statues in Wangcang county. 

Global Times