In the right photo, two vases and an incense burner were still there but the candle holders, which were visible in the left photo, were gone, leaving only their bases.
Four officials in Beijing have been sacked after a pair of 400-year-old candle holders were stolen from the Ming imperial tombs, local authorities said Thursday.
The officials, from Changping district, included the head and the Party chief of the Ming Tombs Special Area Agency, and two people in charge of security and cultural heritages.
The mausoleums were built for the emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The missing white marble candle holders, which were about 90 centimeters tall and weighed 200 kilograms each, were placed in front of the mausoleum of Ming's last emperor Chongzhen.
According to a police officer who declined to be named, the candle holders went missing last May but local officials said they had been sent for repairs.
The candle holders were a hot topic last month when a visitor posted photographs of the tombs online. In newer photos, two vases and an incense burner were still there but the candle holders, which were visible in older photographs, were gone, leaving only their bases.
A media official with Changping government told Xinhua that Ming Tombs Special Area Agency admitted on March 20 that the candle holders had been missing.
He said that the four officials were sacked for their “incompetence in protection of cultural relics,” adding that security will be improved.
No further details were given and the case is still under investigation.
About 40 kilometers north of downtown Beijing, the Ming Tombs were listed as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003.