Villagers in southwestern China are scratching their heads over the county government's decision to paint an entire barren mountainside green.
Workers who began spraying Laoshou mountain last August told villagers they were doing so on orders of the county government but were not told why, media reports said Wednesday.
Some villagers guessed officials of the surrounding Fumin county, whose office building faces the mountain, were trying to change the area's feng shui - the ancient Chinese belief of harmonizing one's physical environment for maximum health and financial benefit.
Others speculated it was an unusual attempt at "greening" the area in keeping with calls for more attention to environmental protection. Photographs of the mountain showed the exposed rock covered in an artificial green the color of Astroturf looming over houses against a scrubby background.
The official Xinhua News Agency estimated the cost of the paint job at 470,000 yuan (US$60,600; â‚¬46,600) and quoted villagers saying that if spent on actual plants and trees, the money could have restored a far greater area of barren mountain.