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Earthquake-Devastated Qiang Culture Fights For Survival In China - HISTORY

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Author Topic: Earthquake-Devastated Qiang Culture Fights For Survival In China - HISTORY  (Read 1007 times)
Bianca
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« on: July 15, 2008, 07:52:57 am »



Qiang children in the Black Tiger Village may not get the chance to
grow up wtih the shaman culture. More than 30,000 Qiang died in the
earthquake, threatening their way of life.

By Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY










                                        Earthquake-devastated culture fights for survival in China






By Calum MacLeod
USA TODAY
July 15, 2008

BLACK TIGER VILLAGE, China Ren Yongqing adjusts his goatskin vest, twists his necklace of animal tusks and teeth and chants an ancient prayer for peace to return to his mountain village shattered by the massive earthquake two months ago.

Ren, 83, is one of only a few dozen shamans, or holy men, left among the Qiang, an ethnic minority in China that has its own language, no written text and relies on elders to hand down its ancient traditions through chants and storytelling. "After the earthquake, I worry that we will not be able to pass on the shibi (shaman) culture, and the Qiang culture," says Ren, sitting in a makeshift house he now shares with 15 family members.

More than 30,000 Qiang died in the earthquake almost half of the 69,000 people killed, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The Qiang, known in China as the "people in the clouds," lost about 10% of their population.

Now, the atheistic, communist Chinese government that once hounded and humiliated shamans such as Ren is considering an unusual effort to save the Qiang (che-yang; rhymes with rang).

The Chinese Cabinet, or State Council, is weighing whether to establish a "cultural protection region" for the Qiang, the vice minister of culture, Zhou Heping, told Xinhua. The government would rebuild Qiang villages in four counties, preserve relics, give "Qiang cultural masters" more opportunities to resume traditions and festivals and produce videotapes in the Qiang language.

The government's move to preserve the Qiang culture contrasts sharply with Beijing's sometimes violent crackdowns recently against Tibetans and the Uighur ethnic minority, who widely resent Chinese rule. However, the Qiang, one of 55 ethnic minorities officially recognized in a country that is 92% Han Chinese, are small in number and have no separatist ambitions that threaten party rulers.

After the earthquake, the government was widely lauded for its quick response to rescue people and provide aid in hard-hit southwestern China. The disaster occurred at a time when the government's actions are under particular scrutiny in the weeks preceding the Beijing Olympics, which begin Aug. 8.

"We must not suffer the fate of Indians in America, as their culture has disappeared. There is still time for us," says Yang Chenli, a Qiang native and cultural bureau director of Mao County, which includes Black Tiger Village. Yang believes at least 4,000 locals died in the quake.

"The shamans have the most comprehensive knowledge of Qiang language and traditions," he says. "We need them to teach the younger generation."

Yang credits the resources the government is devoting to the region. "Even Premier Wen Jiabao has been stressing how we must protect the intangible culture" of the Qiang people, he says.

Sun Hongkai, a language professor who first researched the Qiang for the government in the 1950s, says the moves to preserve the Qiang after the earthquake represent "the most attention Qiang culture has ever received from the government."

"There is a Chinese saying 'to profit from a misfortune.' From central to local government, we are focused on rebuilding the area and its culture. Without the earthquake, there would not be so much effort or funding," he says.

Sun fears that the most qualified teachers are dying out. "They have passed on an oral culture that represents their struggle with the natural world for thousands of years. Today only a dozen or so shaman can fully pass on that culture. It is in danger of disappearing," Sun says.

American linguist Randy LaPolla, who has studied with a Qiang shaman and authored a book about the language, says, "The earthquake will accelerate the ongoing loss of the Qiang culture. Within a couple of generations, the language will be gone."
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 01:27:04 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2008, 08:09:43 am »











The government's move to preserve the Qiang culture contrasts sharply with Beijing's sometimes violent crackdowns recently against Tibetans and the Uighur ethnic minority, who widely resent Chinese rule. However, the Qiang, one of 55 ethnic minorities officially recognized in a country that is 92% Han Chinese, are small in number and have no separatist ambitions that threaten party rulers.

After the earthquake, the government was widely lauded for its quick response to rescue people and provide aid in hard-hit southwestern China. The disaster occurred at a time when the government's actions are under particular scrutiny in the weeks preceding the Beijing Olympics, which begin Aug. 8.

"We must not suffer the fate of Indians in America, as their culture has disappeared. There is still time for us," says Yang Chenli, a Qiang native and cultural bureau director of Mao County, which includes Black Tiger Village. Yang believes at least 4,000 locals died in the quake.

"The shamans have the most comprehensive knowledge of Qiang language and traditions," he says. "We need them to teach the younger generation."

Yang credits the resources the government is devoting to the region. "Even Premier Wen Jiabao has been stressing how we must protect the intangible culture" of the Qiang people, he says.





July 15- In the mountain village of Black Tiger, deep in Sichuan Province, China, a Qiang Shaman shows the trappings of his rituals.


PHOTOS:

BLACK TIGER VILLAGE




VIDEO:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-07-14-chinaquake_N.htm?csp=34
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 10:17:42 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2008, 08:13:52 am »













                                                      Restoring the glory of Qiang culture 
 
 

 

Special report: Reconstruction After Earthquake



BEIJING, July 8 -- The May 12 earthquake had a disastrous affect on traditional folk cultures
in Southwest China. Temples and buildings of the Qiang people, and other ethnic groups, were
damaged by the massive quake.

    The Ministry of Culture has drawn up an action plan to rebuild cultural facilities in the disaster-affected areas. Vice Cultural Minister Zhou Heping said urgent relief material and donations have been sent to prominent representatives of folk cultures.

    While accessing the damage done to the areas, local governments are already planning to build museums and schools to pass on the precious knowledge.

    At a May 30 meeting by the State Nationalities Affairs Commission, some 30 cultural experts discussed the challenges in preserving and revitalizing the ancient Qiang culture.

    An exhibition of Qiang cultural relics will be held in Beijing later this year and more books about the Qiang's history and folk customs are planned to be published.



    (Source: China Daily)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 09:27:49 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2008, 08:16:24 am »



A Qiang woman tidies up quilts dug out from the ruins of her village,
destroyed by the earthquake

(Image: Beijing Review)








                                                              A Disappearing Culture





4th July 2008
BEIJING REVIEW

With 3,000 years of history behind them and only 300,000 of them left in the world, China's Qiang ethnic group
is a nationality with an interesting, yet little-known culture.

That culture came into the light recently with the opening of a new exhibition at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities of Beijing called Qiang Culture in the Earthquake-hit Areas of Sichuan Province.

It has attracted particularly large crowds because Beichuan, the only Qiang autonomous county in China, was shaken severely by the earthquake in Sichuan on May 12.

The exhibition, which opened on June 14, presents more than 100 items related with the Qiang culture, including utensils, clothes and musical instruments. The items were collected from other counties that are also inhabited by the Qiang people but were less affected by the earthquake. There are also around 300 photographs taken by journalists showing the customs, constructions, and living habits of the Qiang people.

"We lost 805 items of Qiang cultural relics in the earthquake," Gao Zeyou, Director of Beichuan Qiang Folk Museum told Beijing Review. "Almost all the museums in Beichuan County were destroyed and all the items in the Qiang Folk Museum were damaged. The destruction has been ruinous."

The history of the Qiang ethnic group can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (1600 B.C.-1046 B.C.). According to China's census of 2000, there were 306,000 Qiang people, living mainly in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Nationality Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. Beichuan, one of the counties in the prefecture, has a history of 1,400 years, and has long been a gathering place for the Qiang people. It is now the only Qiang Autonomous County of China. Among the 169,000 inhabitants of Beichuan, 60 percent are Qiang people. In the earthquake, around 30,000 Qiang people lost their lives.
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2008, 08:23:37 am »












Unique characteristics



The Qiang people have a rich culture. Their homes, clothes, food, music, dance and language all have unique characteristics.

"The Qiang flute needn't play the melody of the weeping willow, for the Yumen Pass shut out the vernal wind below." This ancient poem, usually accompanied by Qiang flute, is well known across China. The flute is difficult to play and few have mastered it.

The Qiang folk song and drum are also specific to their culture, and gradually disappearing as younger generations look to more modern forms of music. The earthquake claimed the lives of a number of Qiang flute players, drummers and folk singers.

The Qiang language has no written form, so customs can only be passed down by word of mouth or demonstration. A number of Qiang elders, renowned for their cultural knowledge, were killed in the earthquake. "There were more than 10 Qiang elders in Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the quake, who knew a lot of things about Qiang culture and history. They are regarded as walking history books of the Qiang nationality. However, several of them were killed by the earthquake," said Hou Bin, a professor at Southwest University of Nationalities.





The Qiang villages are usually built on mountains, a fact that has earned them the name "villages in the clouds." Traditionally they had watchtowers, or Qiong Long, that looked out over the surrounding terrain. Qiang people
have a history of building watchtowers for more than 2,000 years. But the earthquake destroyed several of their watchtowers, and left others severely damaged with badly cracked walls.

While the earthquake has drawn extra attention to the protection of Qiang culture, it has in fact been an issue in China for some time. Last year the government of Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, allocated 100,000 yuan (some $14,500) for the collection of Qiang cultural relics. "Nobody could have imagined that this collection would just lead to more relics being destroyed by the earthquake," said Gao.

After the earthquake, many Qiang people lost their homes and had to leave their villages.

For a lot of the survivors, it was the first time they had seen the outside world. "Since Beichuan was totally destroyed, Qiang people have had to find other places to build new houses. This might separate the Qiang
people into many places, and add difficulty to the passing on of Qiang culture," said Gao.
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2008, 08:24:59 am »












Premier speaks



On May 24, during a visit to Beichuan County, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that the ancient culture and civilization of the Qiang people must be protected.

On May 30, the Forum on the Protection of Qiang Culture in Earthquake-hit Areas was held in Beijing. In June, the Forum of Emergent Protection of Qiang Cultural Relics was held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Many experts from different universities and associations sat together to discuss how to protect Qiang culture, which is in the danger of extinction. They suggested that the protection of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Qiang should be an important part in the reconstruction of the quake-hit areas. A similar cultural environment should be created in the relocation of the Qiang people.

"Qiang culture has a history of more than 3,000 years, and now the population of Qiang people is just 300,000. It is hard to tell to what degree Qiang culture influences other nationalities," said Feng Jicai, Chairman of Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society. "Folk art is our mother culture. Now our mother is buried under the ruins, we have to save her."

"Now we have the regulations on the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and we will follow the regulations in the protection work," said Gao. He has been busy searching for relics under the ruins.

"We are planning to build another large-scale Qiang Folk Museum. The location of the new museum has not yet been decided, but it will not be long," Gao said. "I believe as long as we are here and never give up, there will be a hopeful future for Qiang culture."





Textsource: Beijing Review

Author: Yuan Yuan
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 09:25:12 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2008, 08:36:36 am »



SICHUAN - CHINA








                                                            Q I A N G   P E O P L E






From Wikipedia

Not to be confused with Qiang (spear).

The Qiang people (Chinese: 羌族; pinyin: qiāng z) are an ethnic group. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, with a population of approximately 200,000 living in northwestern Sichuan province. Nowadays, the Qiang are only a small segment of the population, but they are commonly believed to be an old, once strong and populous people whose history can be traced to the Shang Dynasty and whose offspring include the Tibetans and many minorities in southwestern China.

In ancient China, Qiang was usually used as a generic term for the non-Han peoples in the northwest. These peoples were frequently at war with the inhabitants of the Yellow River valley, the ancestors of ethnic Hans. Not until the rise of the state of Qin under Duke Mu was the Qiang expansion effectively checked.

The structure of the graph 羌 also reflects this view. It was composed of two elements: 人 (man) and 羊 (sheep), suggesting a sheep-herding people. During the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) and Wei-Jin periods (221-419), Qiang were widely distributed along the mountainous fringes of the northern and eastern Tibetan Plateau, from the Kunlun Mountains (崑崙山) in Xinjiang province, and eastern Qinghai area, to southern Gansu, western Sichuan, and northern Yunnan.

Later, the Chinese restricted the term Qiang min 羌民 (Qiang people registered with the Chinese government) to refer to sinicized non-Han living in the Min River valley in Sichuan and used the term Fan Qiang 番羌 (barbarian Qiang) to refer to less sinicized non-Han living in the vicinity.
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2008, 08:40:48 am »










At present, the Qiang have a self-identity, referring to themselves as Qiang zu (羌族) and erma or rma (尔玛). There are some 198,000 Qiang today in western Sichuan, predominantly in the five counties of Maoxian, Wenchuan, Lixian, Beichuan and Heishui, of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. On 12 May 2008, the Qiang people were heavily affected by a major earthquake, whose epicenter was in Wenchuan County.

The Qiang today are mountain dwellers. A fortress village, zhai 寨, composed of 30 to 100 households, in general is the basic social unit beyond the household. An average of two to five fortress villages in a small valley along a mountain stream, known in local Chinese as gou 溝, make up a village cluster (cun 村). The inhabitants of fortress village or village cluster have close contact in social life. In these small valleys, people cultivate narrow fluvial plains along creeks or mountain terraces, hunt animals or collect mushrooms and herbs (for food or medicine) in the neighboring woods, and herd yaks and horses on the mountain-top pastures. In the past, warfare between villages was common.

From the linguistic point of view, all modern Qiang people speak one of two Qiang languages, which are members of the Qiangic sub-family of Tibeto-Burman. However, dialects are so different that communication between different Qiang groups is often in Chinese. Lacking a script of their own, the Qiang also use Chinese characters.
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2008, 08:51:18 am »










Customs



The matrilineal Qiang society is primarily monogamous, although polyandry and cross-cousin marriages are accepted. Since most women are older than their husbands and also work as the leading people in agricultural activities, they act as the head of the family as well as the society.

Romantic love is considered important, and sexual freedom is prevalent, as the Qiang find marriages important.[citation needed] In the past, marriages were organized by the parents, with approval from the children. It still is not unusual for brides to live in their parents' houses for a year or so after the marriage, and the children were usually separated from their parents after marriage, except for the first son and his family. However, such habits have been gradually discarded with the coming of liberation.

The Qiang also have a rigid taboo system in their birth and death. Prior to the birth of a baby, a pregnant woman is not allowed to go near the riverside or well, be at a wedding ceremony, or stand in the watchtower.

Upon a delivery, a Duangong shaman is invited to help the delivery procedure, and strangers are not allowed to wail or enter the house. This is prevented by hanging up a flail on the gate for a week upon the birth of a boy, and a bamboo basket upon the birth of a girl.

After she had delivered her child, she is not allowed into the kitchen for one month after delivery. This is considered a sinful action against the kitchen and family gods. A woman is also not allowed to leave her home, or meet any strangers on the first forty days after delivery. It is believed that danger of an evil spirits coming into the house would harm the mother. An initiation ceremony of cattle sacrifice would be conducted on the home altar, where the baby would be given a name.

Stillborn or premature babies are not considered as human beings by the Qiang. Instead, it was considered as a demon which caused a woman to become pregnant, as it was believed that the deceased would cause problems for the family. Their bodies are thrown in a hole in the ground and then covered with dirt.
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2008, 08:53:35 am »













Culture and lifestyle



Owing to its ethnic diversity, Qiang culture have influenced other culture and as well as being influenced by others. Generally, those who live nearer to the Tibetans are influenced by the Tibetan culture, while the majority are more influenced by the Han Chinese, which has close links with its ethnic history.

Both the menfolk and womenfolk wear gowns made of gunny cloth, cotton and silk with sleeveless wool jackets. Following age-old Chinese traditions, their hair and legs are bounded. The womenfolk wear laced clothing with decorated collars, consisting of plum-shaped silver ornaments. Sharp-pointed and embroidered shoes, embroidered girdles and earrings, neck rings, hairpins and silver badges are also popular.



Millet, highland barley, potatoes, winter wheat and buckwheat served as the staple food of the Qiang. Consumption of Wine and smoking of orchid leaves are popular among the Qiang.

The Qiang live in houses made up of granite stones, which consists of two to three stories. The first floor meant for keeping livestock and poultry, while the second floor is meant for the living quarters, and the third floor for grain storage. On the condition if the third floor does not exist, the grains will be kept on the first or second floor instead.

Skilled in road construction and bamboo bridges, they can built them on rockiest cliffs and swiftest rivers. Using only wooden boards and piers, these bridges can stretch up to 100 meters. Others, who are excellent masons, are good at digging wells. Especially during poor farming seasons, they will visit neighboring places to do chiselling and digging.

Embroidery and drawnwork is done extemporaneously without any designs. Traditional songs related to topics such wine, plate, mountain and leather drums is accompanied with dances and traditional instruments are popular among the Qiang.
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2008, 08:55:07 am »












Religion



The majority of the Qiang adhere to a polytheist religion, known as Rujiao, a religion that involves belief in the White Stones that were worshipped as the sun god, who will bring good luck to their daily aspects of life. Others, who live near the Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism. Small minorities of Muslims and Taoists exist as well.

The Qiang worship five major gods, twelve lesser gods, some tree gods, numerous stones worshiped as gods. A special god is worshippeed as well in every village and locality, who are mentioned by name in the sacred chants of the Qiang priests. Mubyasei, also known Abba Chi, is known as the god of heaven is also considered as the supreme god. This term is also used to refer to a male ancestor god, Abba Sei. In certain places, Shan Wang, the mountain god, is considered to worshipped the supreme god. The Qiang people have also adopted many practices of the Taoist gods as well.

For the Polytheists, most White Stones were placed on the corners of their roofs or towers, as a good luck symbol for the sun. A square stone pagoda, which is located on the edge of many Qiang villages and on the top of a nearby hill as well. The pagoda is usually over two meters high and its uppermost part is inlaid with a circle of small white stones. A larger white stone is also placed at the pinnacle as well.

A small pagoda is also sometimes built on the roof of a house, with a pottery jar that contained five varieties of grain is placed within the pagoda. On top of the pagoda, a white stone is placed together with ox and sheep horns. By tradition, the door of a Qiang house is supposed to face south and the pagoda is built on the northern end of the roof in line with the door. Every morning, the Qiang family will burn incense sticks or cedar twigs in the pagoda and kowtow to it, praying for the protection of the family by the god of the white stone.

However, with the encouragement of atheism, worship of the White Stones is not nearly as common as it used to be. There are several legends that explain the origin of this stone worship.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2008, 08:59:04 am »










Legend of the White Stones



At the legendary time when the Qiang people moved into Sichuan from Tibet, they placed white stones on every hilltop and crossroads , for they did not want to forget the route leading back to their original homeland. These piles of white stones also acts as a token of their affection for their homeland and the people they left behind at the same time.

Upon arriving at the territory of the local Geji people, the Qiang fought a losing battle. Jirpol, witnessing the condition that they were in, instructed the Qiang to find a strong white stone and attach it to rattan sticks and fight with this weapon, tying some sheep wool to the neck of the stick as well. Victory was on their side, and the Qiangs began to look upon the white stones as gods to be worshipped.
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2008, 09:07:46 am »

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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2008, 09:19:25 am »

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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2008, 09:21:20 am »



CORN DRYING ON A ROOFTOP

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