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Ancient villages in China in danger of losing their souls

(People's Daily Online)

08:08, September 25, 2012

(Photo/Xinhua)

China is carrying out protection on its intangible cultural heritages in recent years. As an important part of traditional cultural resources, ancient villages are attracting wide attention. However, in the course of the integration of urban and rural areas, ancient villages are being impacted by urban culture, external culture and mainstream culture and their integrity and cultural elements are facing unprecedented challenges.

According to surveys and records by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China, the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society and the Rural Architecture Research Office under the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University, China had about 5,000 ancient villages reflecting its farming culture, including villages of folk houses, folk cultures and intangible cultural heritages in 2005. By June 2012, the number had decreased to less than 3,000.

Currently, China's protection of ancient villages tends to emphasize tangible cultural heritages including the appearance, scenic spots and architecture. However, we should realize that an ancient village is an integrated entity with its external appearance, internal core and soul. Every ancient village is an inseparable combination of tangible and intangible cultural heritages depending on each other. If we protect only the material part and ignore the spiritual one, then we are just protecting specimens without souls and lives. We must fully realize the value of intangible cultural heritages of ancient villages.

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Source:China Culture Daily, author: Pu Jiao.
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