Qiang culture surviving from Wenchuan quake

16:53, April 26, 2011      

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This is a story about Qiang culture and its seventy-year-old guardian suviving from the devastating Wenchuan Earthquake happened in southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008.

The Qiang ethnic group, who call themselves "Erma," have a population of about 326,500 and mainly live in Sichuan Province, with some scattered in Guizhou, Gansu and Yunnan provinces. Qiang means shepherds in Putonghua and they are historically nomadic sheepherders.

Due to Qiang cultre suffering a serious loss during the Wenchuan Earthquake, a pair of old couple gave everthing they own to build a free museum for Qiang Culure in Taoping Qiang Village, Li County, Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province.

Wang Jiajun, a seventy-year-old man as well as the owner of the Qiang culture museum, has collected cultral relics of Qiang nationality together with his 64-year-old wife Long Shengyu at their own expenses for more than 20 years.

Wang Jiajun and his wife pose for a photo in Taoping Qiang Village, Li County, Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province.(Photo by Feng Huanhuan, People.com.cn)

"We collect everthing related to Qiang nationality,"said Wang Jiajun.

As for Wang's collections, some were inherited from ancestors and the others were purchased at his own expenses. Hence, some people think the old man is so stupid that to buy so many unusable items, but the old man doesn't think so.

He explained, "Although we Qiang nationality has a long history and has our own language, we have no words. Our culture is not easy to be preserved and interited. Now, ,most of the young people in our Taoping Qiang Village are not able to speak Qiang language. So it is worthy for me to spend some money in preserving Qiang culture."

"We feel proud and satisfied because there so many people paying their attention to my museum and to our Qiang culture now," Wang added.

He led the reporter into a 30-square-kilometer exhibition hall and introduced that his collections relating to Qiang Culture include various books, instruments of labor, sacrificial utensils and animal skins.

This is just one of my exhibition hall. I have another three exhibition halls like it now, said Wang.

However, everthing was quite different for Wang Jiajun in Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008. His house collapsed and most of his collections were crushed and even buried.

"The PLA (People's Liberation Army) men saved us and rescued my 'treasures',"said Wang with gratitude.

Recalling the disaster in 2008, the old man was so excited and he said, "Although some cultural relics were crushed into pieces, the PLA men picked up these pieces one by one and packed up them in a box carefully for me."

After the earthquake, the party and the government helped us build a new house. Today's museum is larger and more spacious than before. It is the party and the government who bring us a new life. We will never forget their kindness, said Wang.

Now, the seventy-year-old guardian of Qiang culture welcomes numerous visitors from home and abroad everyday.

By Ye Xin, People's Daily Online
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