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China Plans to Protect Threatened Qiang Culture in Wake of Quake

China is all set to move in to save the quake-threatened culture of the Qiang people in Sichuan Province.

A protection plan on the construction of cultural protection region for the Qiang nationality will be submitted to the State Council within a week, said Zhou Heping, Vice Minister of Culture, on Thursday.

"The culture of the Qiang nationality suffered a near fatal blow from the earthquake on May 12," Zhou told Xinhua.

The plan is almost completed with only a few details remaining to be decided.

The plan aims to restore and rebuild the cultural facilities, villages, buildings and gardens. Relics and documents will be better preserved and Qiang cultural masters will have a larger stage to resume the traditions and festivals of their people.

According to the project, new books and videotapes will be published to bolster the Qiang language in the protection region. The skills of tailoring, the arts and cooking will be explored for future development.

The project also lists the specific ways to protect Qiang cultural masters and the nationality's relics.

The nationality, with a history of 3,000 years, is one of the oldest in China. It has a population of 300,000 people, 80 percent of whom resided in quake-hit areas of Maoxian, Wenchuan, and Beichuan counties.

Two Qiang nationality museums were destroyed, but there is hope that cultural relics can be saved from one of them in Beichuan and Maoxian County, where more than 400 cultural relics and documents were buried.

All the houses in Luobo village, the most ancient Qiang village of Wenchuan, were knocked down. The same tragedy also befell hundreds of typical Qiang houses, buildings and bridges in Beichuan, Maoxian, Lixian counties.

More than 30,000 Qiang people died in the quake, 40 of whom were cultural masters and experts.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2008)

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