The formal ceremony of setting up a reserve trial zone for May-12-quake-hit Qiang culture took place here on Friday, witnessed by State Councilor Liu Yandong.
The Qiang cultural protection trial zone was founded by the Ministry of Culture in October to better preserve the Qiang intangible cultural heritage. It was also brought into the national plan on post-quake reconstruction.
The trial zone mainly covers Beichuan, the country's only Qiang autonomous county, Wenchuan, Maoxian and Lixian counties in Sichuan Province, as well as Ningqiang and Lueyang counties in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
The Qiang ethnic group suffered a serious blow in the May 12 Earthquake.
All the houses in Luobo village, the most ancient Qiang village in Wenchuan County, were toppled. The same disaster also befell hundreds of typical Qiang houses, buildings and bridges in Beichuan, Maoxian and Lixian counties.
Two museums highlighting the culture of the Qiang people in Beichuan and Maoxian counties were leveled too. And more than 30,000 Qiang people died, 40 of whom were cultural masters or experts.
The Qiang people, with a history of at least 3,000 years, are famous for their unique language, customs, arts and religious beliefs. They are also known for the stone castles they live in, often three or four stories tall.
Among the 300,000 Qiang people, 80 percent are in quake-hit areas of Maoxian, Wenchuan, and Beichuan counties.
The trial zone for Qiang culture is the fourth cultural reserve trial zone in the country. China established its first cultural reserve trial zone last year in southeast China's Fujian Province, followed by the other two in central China's Anhui Province and Jiang'xi province.
According to earlier reports, a total of 7.9 billion yuan (1.2 billion U.S. dollars) would be absorbed to assist the Qiang culture protection and tourism in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture and Mianyang City where most of the Qiang people lived.
(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2008)