Two giant Buddhas have been removed from a building in Jinan, the capital of Shangdong province in east China, according to the South China Morning Post.

Photos of the statues went viral after they were posted on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, triggering a debate over whether the Buddhas constituted art. It was unknown who the sculptures’ designers are and why they were made.

Erected on the wall of a hot pot restaurant in a busy shopping street, the installation was nicknamed Buddha Jumps Over the Wall after a spicy Cantonese soup that is a Chinese delicacy.

Yet some responded with outrage; one monk named Miaoming is reported to have written on his microblog: “I burst into tears when I saw naked Buddhas climbing over the wall! How come a nation with a thousand-year history has so little respect for its own culture?”

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.