Reconstruction of a museum of the ancient ethnic group Qiang, which was devastated in the massive earthquake a year ago, began in Maoxian, Sichuan Tuesday.
With an investment of 138.68 million yuan (20.3 million U.S. dollars), the new museum would cover 4 hectares with a floor space of 10,000 square meters, said Wang Defeng, director of the culture bureau in Maoxian County, Sichuan Province.
Work will be finished in two years, after which all the collections that belong to the museum but were transferred to the provincial capital Chengdu after the quake will return, along with800 items collected during the past year.
Among the 87,000 people killed or missing in the quake, about 30,000 were from the Qiang minority, or 10 percent of the ethnic group whose history stretches back at least 3,000 years.
The Qiang are famous for their unique language, customs, arts and religious beliefs. They are also known for their stone homes, often three or four stories tall. About 80 percent of the Qiang people are in the quake-hit areas of Maoxian, Wenchuan, and Beichuan counties.
During the quake, the museum in Maoxian was seriously damaged and 1,013 items from its collections were destroyed or damaged.
Shan Jixiang, director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said the rebuilding of the museum was an important step in preserving the Qiang culture. Shan said the museum was the largest cultural facility under construction in Aba Prefecture, which administers Maoxian and Wenchuan.
More than 10,000 local residents, dressed in traditional costumes, attended the ground-breaking ceremony.