Tombstones ordered to be painted green

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Residents in Yiliang county of Southwest China's Yunnan province had to paint their deceased relatives' tombstones green because local officials believed the white markers were desecrating the mountain, local media reported on Thursday.

Tombstones ordered to be painted green

A paint pot is left beside a tombstone that had been painted green on Tuesday in Yiliang county, Yunnan province. [Provided to China Daily]

The 19-km highway linking the Yiliang county seat and the Goujie town is surrounded by mountains on both sides. These mountains are dotted with white tombstones marking the graves of the residents' ancestors.

Local residents said the village governance ordered them to paint the tombstones green or black so the mountains could have a more unified color.

The residents were told if the tombs were not painted, they would be destroyed with explosives, according to local media reports.

"Green tombstones are the weirdest things I've ever heard of," a 60-year-old villager was quoted as saying. "The gravestones are meant to allow later generations to look and pay respect. Why do they have to be green?"

But he finally painted his father's tombstone green, because he "did not want it blasted", the report said. The green painting blurred the writings on the monument, he said.

Another villager told the Kunming-based Chuncheng Evening News that about 10 days ago, the loudspeaker in their village said every household should paint their ancestors' tombs green, or cover the white gravestones with green cloth. Those tombstones that stayed white would be blown up.

"Despite taking care of farm work, I had to squeeze in some time to cover the tomb," said a frustrated villager.

By Thursday, every tomb in the area near the Yulong village and the Dameizi village had been painted or covered, the report said.

The staff in sub-district offices of the village said the "higher-level officials" ordered them to urge the villagers to do that, because "the white spots on the green mountain were ugly".

But the Yiliang county government said in a statement on Thursday that they never gave such instructions.

The statement said the county government is carrying out a project to relocate tombs close to highways to improve the environment and "enhance the level of civilization".

In order to avoid relocation, some villagers painted the tombstones, which went opposite to the government's primary goal. Yiliang officials has since issued a notice to stop the painting of the tombs.

This is not the first time in China that green paint has been being used to make mountains' color appear solid. In 2007, Fumin county of Kunming, capital city of Yunnan, reportedly painted several thousand square meters of bare mountain green to cheat on an inspection from higher authorities.

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