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Hangzhou cultural site covered by coins and banknotes, seeks to stop 'airborne donations'

People's Daily Online | Updated: 2016-11-25 09:27

The ruins of a historic underground chamber in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province are covered by coins and banknotes thrown by well-wishing tourists. Though at first glance uncontroversial, the behavior of those tourists has received a mixed reaction from the public.

The underground chamber – which, according to legend, is where the mythological White Lady Snake was imprisoned – is located at the base of Leifeng Pagoda. Though the site has adopted measures to curb coin-throwing in the past, such as installing protective glass fences or prohibiting the act altogether, tourists continue to throw coins and small bills when they visit the site.

"We can hardly stop the airborne coin donations. Our best shot [at doing so] is to put up more signs reminding tourists not to throw money, but even that doesn’t help much. Every year we collect coins worth over 20,000 RMB," an employee of the site told, adding that sometimes they have to gather the coins on a weekly basis.

"From the viewpoint of folklore, Chinese believe the coin donations will bring good fortune and blessings. Though the practice is understandable, it can easily damage the cultural relics, and should be stopped," said Zhong Xiangping, vice director of the Hangzhou History Association.

Coin-throwing has already taken its toll on some cultural sites. A 200-year-old stone tablet in Beijing was left riddled with marks made by flying coins, Beijing News reported in 2015.

Meanwhile, the donation controversy for the underground chamber has garnered over 140,000 page views under the hashtag "RuinTurnsIntoCoinMountain," with many criticizing the behavior as "uncivilized and ignorant."

"Tourists have already damaged cultural relics by throwing coins at them. Coin donation is merely a superstitious practice and should be banned at the sites," wrote one Sina Weibo user.

Others took a decidedly lighter view of the issue.

"The sites can collect the money and use it for renovations. You can hire me to collect those coins – I see no reason why you guys keep complaining about it," wrote another commenter.

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