Organizers of an exhibition of ancient instruments of torture in Huai'an, Jiangsu province, have suggested that children, heart disease patients and people with high blood pressure stay away because of the vivid depictions of shocking cruelty.
The exhibition has more than 200 instruments of torture on display in the 50,000-square-meter exhibition halls of a restored ancient building. Wax figures, along with sound and light techniques, are incorporated for scary effect.
In one hall, a wax criminal is hung upside down from the ceiling. His hair is tied to a stone, under which a fire is burning. It would be dangerous for a real person if the rope were cut.
In another hall, knives and other equipment for peeling off human skin are exhibited. On a table is a model of a human skin that has been removed, with an execution officer standing nearby with a knife.
Pain and fear are expressed on the face of many wax criminals. A female criminal, whose body is clamped to a wooden frame, shouts with her mouth open wide.
The local government said the exhibition is for tourists and historians to research ancient torture practices.
In the same building as the torture exhibition is another exhibit detailing the anti-corruption campaign by local authorities. The juxtaposition of the exhibits aroused Chinese netizens' suspicions that the torture exhibit was meant to frighten corrupt officials.
A deputy director of the city's disciplinary watchdog, surnamed Li, denied that was the case. Li said the exhibit of torture instruments had no connection with the anti-corruption effort.
"The punishment of criminals in ancient China was very cruel," Li said. "Those uncivilized punishments should not be referred to by modern society. It just happened that the two exhibitions were held at the same place at the same time.
"Some media should confirm the information with the related department before connecting the two shows. Some of them need to show a more responsible attitude to readers."
Huang Yi, a worker at the site, said warning signs are placed in front of every exhibition hall to alert people to the harsh material inside.
"The exhibition of the torture instruments has been held since last year. If you think you can stand the cruel content, you can pay a visit," Huang said.