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Quake Causes Severe Damage to Cultural Heritage Items

Intangible cultural heritage items were severely damaged in regions hit by the magnitude-8.0 earthquake on May 12, the Ministry of Culture said in Beijing on Saturday.

In the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu and Chongqing municipality, 14 national-level intangible cultural heritage items were damaged, 15,009 precious items destroyed, and 27 museums and 17 folklore villages sustained severe damage, according to statistics released by the ministry.

Ten state-level intangible cultural heritage promotion individuals were injured in the quake, it said.

Sichuan Province had the greatest loss, with seven national-level intangible cultural heritage sites ruined.

The intangible cultural heritage in Beichuan County, a Qiang minority autonomous county leveled by the tremor, is on the edge of extinction, with 25 researchers on Qiang culture dead in the disaster, two intangible cultural heritage museums ruined and one folklore museum seriously damaged, the ministry said.

The region's three- or four-story stone castles, a representative structure representing the ethnic culture, have also reported damage and a village known for well-made Chinese New Year pictures was ruined.

The areas inhabited by the Qiang ethnic group, with a population of about 306,000, were in the areas worst hit by the quake. They include Miaoxian, Lixian, Beichuan, Heishui and Wenchuan counties, all in Sichuan.

The ministry is incorporating intangible cultural heritage protection into the post-quake reconstruction plan for culture establishments in an attempt to strengthen the salvage and protection work for quake-threatened intangible cultural heritage.

The ministry will send expert teams to the quake-hit areas for field research and draw out detailed plan to support intangible cultural heritage carriers to pass on their skills to more people.

In addition, the ministry will accelerate the procedure to demonstrate a plan to build an ecological environment reserve for Qiang ethnic cultures.

(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2008)

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