Lost ritual scripts of Dongba Culture retrieved

By Ding Chunyan and Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 1, 2017
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The ancient pictographic booklet recording a ritual of divine worship [Photo Courtesy of ADCA]

However, as the priests, experts in the history and religious rituals of the Dongba Culture, are ageing, the rescue of the unique ethnic cultural heritage becomes more pressing.

Dongba Culture, listed as one of the "Memory of World Heritage" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and enjoying National Social Science Foundation support, is supposed to be preserved for future generations with the help of data collection through various digital platforms.

A living fossil of pictography, the booklets of Dongba Culture reflect the minds and thoughts of early civilization. However, with extinction increasingly possible, the job to share the unique culture plays a significant role in reinvigorating the heritage, Zhang said.

The digital platform incorporates multi-disciplinary research, international partnerships and first-hand data collection and analysis through which the ancient documents can be found, shared and spread with the help of computing technologies, such as, the avant-garde virtual or augmented reality approaches, said Wu Guoxin, deputy researcher from Beijing Information Science and Technology University (BISTU) and a council member of ADCA.

According to Chen Ruoyu, deputy director of computer science and technology program of BISTU, the digitalized Dongba documents are based on the sampling of metadata collection as the pictographic brochures are scanned, recognized and converted into XML formats that can be searched using the XQuery language. The search engines are divided into local searches, searches in English, web searches and searches of periodical analysis.

"By integrating the ancient culture into the digital platform, I can see the rise of a promising scenario of Dongba Culture,” said Bai Gengsheng, Naxi scholar and team leader of the major programs of National Social Sciences Foundation.

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