Name of element
Qiang New Year festival
Hezhen Yimakan storytelling (2011)
Traditional design and practices for building Chinese wooden arch bridges (2009)
Traditional Li textile techniques: spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidering (2009)
Watertight-bulkhead technology of Chinese junks (2010)
Wooden movable-type printing of China (2010)
The Qiang New Year festival is a traditional festival for Qiang people who live in counties of Wenchuan, Li, Mao, Beichuan and Pingwu in Sichuan Province of China. Called “rrmea jea” in the Qiang language, meaning an auspicious and joyous festival, it is an occasion for the Qiang people to offer thanks and worship to heaven for blessings and prosperity. It occurs on the first day of the tenth lunar month and lasts three to five days, during which Qiang people from every village hold sacrificial rituals to worship gods of heaven, mountains and clans and to celebrate together in their finest ceremonial dress. Through the traditional festival, Qiang people’s interactions with the universe, nature and history are maintained spiritually while their community cohesion and cultural identity are enhanced.
The Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008 brought heavy losses to the Qiang people as well as the natural environment and cultural ecology of the festival: many shbis (priests) who preside over the sacrificial rituals of the festival passed away or lost the capability of transmission, the cultural venues (such as the sacred mountains, towers, traditional watchtowers, etc.) associated with the festival were destroyed or seriously damaged, ritual items symbolizing the shbi culture (such as the scepter and ringing knife) were buried underground, costumes and other implements used in the festival were damaged or lost, and large quantities of materials and data (stored in text, photo and video) related to the festival disappeared. In addition, the declining interest in the Qiang language among the young also made many traditional cultural forms teeter on the brink of extinction, endangering the intergenerational transmission of shbi and the viability of the festival. After the earthquake, cultural authorities at all levels and related communities have taken a series of measures on reconstruction, among which the safeguarding for the intangible cultural heritage including the festival is top priority.
Since the element was inscribed on the List in 2009, the Qiang people further recognized the intangible cultural property and value of their traditional festival as well as the risks it faces; related communities, groups or individuals actively participated in various safeguarding activities and benefited a lot in their endeavors to raise their awareness of intangible cultural heritage. Up to December of 2015, the following measures have been taken by all parties concerned: 1) to subsidize representative bearers of the festival and to help them settle productivity and basic livelihood, creating a favorable condition for them to cultivate apprentices and carry out practice and transmission activities; 2) to reinforce and rebuild sacrificial venues for the festival damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, to produce and complement implements used in the festival, restoring the cultural space the festival depends on without delay; 3) to establish practice and transmission training centers as well as exhibition centers of folk customs in major communities, providing a platform for transmission exchange and safeguarding practice of the element; 4) to collect and file information about the festival and related intangible cultural resources, and to establish a database for these resources; 5) to publish a series of research works on the culture of the festival, laying a foundation for the implementing of safeguarding measures and transmission activities; 6) to introduce the intangible cultural heritage into schools, classes and textbooks, promoting the intergenerational transmission of the festival; 7) to establish a safeguarding network with interactions among multiple participants, including bearers, schools, colleges, communities, associations, local societies, research institutions and professional centers.
In conclusion, since the festival was inscribed on the List, the Qiang people transformed crisis into opportunity, pressure into impetus, and ruins into new homes, during which they also rebuilt and restored their traditional culture system, especially carried out various activities to safeguard the festival and related intangible cultural heritage.
Sichuan Academy of Arts, China / Associate Research Fellow
11 XimianqiaoJie, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, 610041
Other relevant information
www.scyishu.org.cn (Website for Sichuan Memory)
As a major annual event for Qiang people to celebrate the harvest and to ring in the new year, the Qiang New Year Festival is not only an occasion for demonstrating ritual protocols, oral traditions and performing arts, but a cultural space loaded with social practice, life experience and traditional knowledge. With diversified ritual forms in different places, the festival is themed with harvest celebration, thanksgiving and praying for happiness. The Qiang people preserve and transmit the historical and cultural information of their ancestors by oral instruction and personal demonstration, express their respect and worship towards nature, all creatures, the motherland and their ancestors through festival activities (which reflect the Qiang people’s theory of harmony between man and nature), regulate community actions and people’s behavior, and promote social harmony and family peace. As the core part of the ritual activities in the festival, shbi’s chanting include both religious classics and national epics, containing traditional philosophy, folk culture, dance, music, astronomy, geography, traditional medicine, etc. In the intervals of ritual, feasting and dancing, shbi and the elderly in the village gather together to discuss official business, underscore village regulations and declare the enrollment of male new-borns on the clan’s pedigree that year, preserving the traditional discussion system with democratic features. Through the participation in festival activities, the collective identity and culture ascription of the community and clan are maintained and enhanced.
The festival consists of three parts: worship of the mountain, collective celebration and family worship. Sacrificial ritual to the mountain is directed by shbi, who lead the people to dance the sheepskin-drum dance and pray for happiness; subsequently, under the direction of the prestigious elderly in the village clan, the collective celebration featuring jar opening and wine drinking is a moment for all of the Qiang people to express their harvest joy and piety; at dusk, before the New Year feasting, heads of families preside over family worship to the ancestors, the god of fire and the god of the family. Therefore, the bearers and practitioners of the festival are diversified and extensive.
The traditional Qiang New Year Festival is organized in the “headman” system: each village is divided into several groups based on clan, each of which sends a representative to draws lots in order to decide the order of festival preparation; the family on duty is headman while the others are assistants, all of whom will preside over the festival activities in turn according to an established sequence. Therefore, the patriarch of each clan serves as organizer in the festival activities.
As an important part of the sacrificial rituals in the festival, the worship of the mountain is directed by shbi, who enjoys high prestige in the clan since he has a good knowledge of Qiang people’s religious classics, ritual traditions, astronomy, medicine, etc. Besides presiding over worship of the mountain, capping ceremonies and votive offerings in Qiang people’s daily life, shbi also leads a dance team to dance with a sheepskin-drum beat at festivals, offering sacrifices to all creatures. Without written records, the Qiang culture is transmitted generation by generation through shbi’s chanting. As the core bearer of Qiang culture, shbi, who epitomizes the traditional culture of the Qiang people, has a special responsibility for the element. With a special mission during the festival, shbis play social and cultural roles in coordinating social relations and promoting community harmony. The transmission practice of shbi is an important way to maintain the viability of the element.
In addition, as the festival is featured with diversified forms of Qiang people’s folk culture, folk dancers, singers, musicians, traditional sports lovers and handicraftsmen all take their own responsibilities for the transmission of the element.
Current situation of viability
The Qiang ethnic group, also called "Erma" or "Rrmea" by itself, owns a total population of 309,576 (according to the 2010 national census), 80 percent of which live in compact communities in Mao, Wenchuan and Li of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture and Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County of Mianyang City, Sichuan Province (hereinafter referred as the "four counties of the Qiang residential areas"). Due to historical reasons, less than 20 villages can still completely perform the celebrations of the Qiang New Year Festival in a traditional way after the Wenchuan Earthquake of 2008. However, the viability of the element has been greatly enhanced since it was inscribed on the List. As a result, people inhabiting in major Qiang residential areas further identified the value of the festival with the result that grand celebrations for the festival on the first day of the tenth lunar month will be held annually; complete festival traditions are still maintained in Qiang villages with inhabiting shbis; the quantity of Qiang people actively participating in festival activities has increased to about 200 thousand currently, compared to about 100 thousand before the Wenchuan Earthquake, accounting for two thirds of the total Qiang population in China. On the one hand, gradual restoration of the element along with the post-earthquake reconstruction also stimulated the safeguarding practice of intangible cultural heritage in Qiang residential areas, which expanded in steps to Songpan, Heishui and Jiuzhaigou in Aba Autonomous Prefecture as well as Pingwu and other counties of Mianyang City with related folk cultural activities showing unprecedented vitality; on the other hand, demographic and geographical distributions of the Qiang changed from 10 counties of 2 provinces including Sichuan and Guizhou before the earthquake to 17 counties and cities involving 4 provinces as Sichuan, Guizhou, Shaanxi and Gansu afterward because of the post-earthquake re-allocation project, leading to expansions of the festival practice to different degrees.
Until now, there are in total 64 representative bearers of the element in four counties of the Qiang residential areas, among which 3 are at the national level, 12 at provincial level, 11 at prefectural level, 1 at municipal level and 37 at county level. In fact, unfortunately, from 2011 to 2015, 7 bearers passed away successively and 1 has been lost since the Wenchuan earthquake, leaving only 56 bearers actually registered with only 17.85 percent of them being able to preside over the festival rituals. It follows that though the viability of the element has been enhanced to some extent, the cultivation and intergenerational transmission of shbis who are the representative bearers of the element and the practicing group of the element are not proportional to the population distribution of the Qiang people, presenting certain challenges to its sustainable development.
（1）Changes of living environment hinders the traditional practice. The Wenchuan earthquake greatly destroyed the natural environment of the Qiang residential areas with severe water and soil erosion as well as frequent secondary disasters, making the Qiang people living in mid-or high-level of the mountains to leave their homes. For them, it is hard to continue the festival practice of collective sacrifices and votive offerings due to changes of living environment and style together with the severe loss of “sacred venues” of traditional significance for the element including the sacred mountain, the sacred forests, the sacred white stone tower and the tower for gods of mountains, which resulted in the loss of many traditional rituals and procedures for the Qiang New Year Festival in new habitation.
（2）Declining interest in the Qiang language threatens the traditional transmission. Since the Qiang have a unique language but no writing system, traditional oral instruction and demonstration play a significant role in cultural transmission. With improved traffic conditions, the Qiang youth were influenced by culture from the outside world, and a large number of labors and students went out for work and study. The Qiang youth and children show a weakening grasp of their mother tongue and tradition, resulting in a distinct transmission division within Qiang culture. According to the survey data collected by scholars, less than 100 thousand Qiang people currently still use the Qiang language in daily life in major Qiang residential areas. The Qiang inhabiting Beichuan, Pingwu and even areas around Shaanxi province have adopted the Chinese language despite the fact that te Qiang language is maintained in some core Qiang residential areas, which however, are also confronted with lack of vitality, difficulties of transmission and other problems for their mother tongue. Marginalization of the Qiang language’s value and dramatic decline of the population using it has already endangered the element as well as its transmission and ritual practice via oral instruction.
（3）Bearer cultivation is faced with various difficulties. Currently, shbi transmission is mainly up against the following problems. First, intergenerational transmission of shbi is compressed by high requirements on the bearers, which demand a skill learning period of at least 3 years to more than 10 years under the transmission mechanism that shbi is restricted to male family members; second, the classics passed by oral instruction and ritual criteria grasped by only a few shbis are draining away due to shbis’ declining memory and health status of old age, which greatly impeded the instruction and transmission; third, the younger generation lacks interest and enthusiasm in learning shbi culture, given the long cultivation period, high difficulty and low income; fourth, the rural population of the Qiang is migrating to urban areas at an increasing speed with many young adults migrating to urban areas of east and middle China to study or work, endangering the transmission of shbi and the practice of the element.
（4）The “empty nest” phenomenon appears in Qiang villages during urbanization. Since the festival is a local festival for the Qiang minority instead of a national statutory holiday, outgoing migrant workers and students are unable to return home, thus resulting in the loss of a large number of young participants. As estimated by relevant departments, there are currently more than 100,000 Qiang people from Sichuan Province working in other places, accounting for about 33.3 percent of the total post-earthquake Qiang population. The Qiang villages are confronted with increasingly severe “empty nest” phenomena with a large number of young adults leaving their hometown for development, leaving a worrying situation for the Qiang’s mother tongue education and traditional culture cultivation. This will definitely block the intergenerational transmission of the element in the future.
A four-year safeguarding action plan (2009-2012) was filed in the nomination for the Qiang New Year Festival with the overall objectives as follows: to support representative bearers of the festival in all aspects and to encourage the inhabitants in order to revitalize the traditional festival activities; to make clear the viability situation to resume the festival activities after the earthquake; to set up a database for relevant materials and documents; to rebuild the transmission and practice training center for the element and to improve the mechanism for transmitting the element. During the reporting period, all safeguarding measures of the element have been fully implemented and further expanded with expected objectives basically achieved. Specific achievements are stated as follows:
—Provide major support for representative bearers of the festival and carry out transmission and practice in a planned way
Governments at all levels provided special assistance and support for the representative bearers of the element with subsidies offered accordingly and personal accident insurances bought for them for free to motivate their transmission awareness and responsibility; shbis took the initiatives to impart their skills during daily practice and transmission as well as ritual practices and to provide active demonstration and guidance during annual festival activities. By the end of 2015, representative bearers from different locations had accepted and taught a total of 54 apprentices, which is twice the number before the element inscribed on the List; and 17 of them have finished their apprenticeship after systematic learning of shbi classics and related ritual skills, accounting for 31.48 percent of the total apprentices accepted.
—Restore cultural space for practice of the element
During the post-earthquake reconstruction and restoration, governments of all counties of the Qiang residential area appropriated capital in time to organize the local Qiang people to reinforce and repair the festival sacrifice venues (the Qiang fortresses, the sacrifice towers, the sacred forests and the towers for the gods of mountains) damaged and collapsed due to the earthquake; bearers and practitioners from each village also wrought and supplemented sacrificial implements destroyed during the earthquake, including sheepskin drums, sacred canes, swords and gongs; moreover, Qiang Culture Ecological Safeguarding Experimental Zone at national level was set up inside the Qiang residential area to actively restore and rebuild the Qiang villages settlement. All these measures created necessary conditions for related community and group to carry out the Qiang culture practices and to restore the cultural space for the practice.
—Establish the practice and training centers of the element and carry out regular safeguarding practices
Renovated badly damaged intangible cultural heritage museums and practice and training centers; supported and assisted bearers to train and teach apprentices or carry out educational training; governments of each county in the Qiang residential area appropriated special fund to set up practice and transmission training centers in villages and towns with great influence on the festival activity and comparatively concentrating shbi culture, where shbis and representative bearers of projects related to the festival carry out regular practice and transmission as well as communication. For example, practice and transmission activities such as the sheepskin drum dance and shbi chanting are very normal inside the practice and training center in Wenchuan with more than 120 bearers of different festival customs practicing and communicating here throughout the year. The practice and transmission training center in Mao County focuses primarily on apprentices training and teaching by the bearers with more than 100 people participating in the practice and transmission here including active participation of community associations such as Guni Qiang Association and Erma Association.
—Set up databases for intangible cultural heritage resources of the Qiang
Cultural management, safeguarding and research departments at provincial, prefecture (municipal) and county levels organized professional teams to carry out persistent survey, recording and filing on the current situation of intangible cultural heritage of the Qiang and the element as well as representative bearers after the earthquake by applying method of modern multimedia. In the meantime, the Art Research Institute of Sichuan Province also carried out a general survey on related cultural resources before and after the earthquake, pooling academic forces to scientifically organize, classify and record collected data. The Qiang intangible cultural heritage resources databases were thus established with audio and video data of 4,740 minutes, 6,274 photos and 256 texts.
—Establish Qiang folk customs exhibition rooms inside the museums of each county
According to the post-earthquake rebuilding plan, the central government activated the counterpart assistance project, by which the appointed provinces (cities) carried out assistant rebuilding for their counterpart earthquake-stricken areas. The appointed provinces and cities appropriated capital to build Qiang museums in areas where the county governments of Wenchuan, Li, Mao and Beichuan locate with Qiang folk customs exhibition rooms established inside. The rooms display excavations related to Qiang culture, sacrificial implements of the festival, clay sculptures, sacrifice scenes of the festival, texts and pictures caption of the festival as well as scriptures organized by shbis with documentaries of the festival activity played repeatedly and with regular explanation of the festival and its related customs by bearers of the element. These rooms help to publicize and guide the exact cultural meaning of the element while receiving audiences and tourists.
—Publish a series of research results on culture of the element
Related materials of the element were subsidized for compiling, publication and exhibition, while promotion and other support and assistance favorable for transmission of the element were also provided. Qiang New Year Festival (Chinese and English version) and The Compilation of Qiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Directories in Sichuan Province were compiled and published by cultural experts and scholars of Sichuan province after comprehensive research and scientific analysis of the element, reconstructing the viability situation and development vein of the element and related intangible cultural heritage; while The Documentary of Qiang Culture Bearers, by applying the method of oral history, systematically presents Qiang shbi culture and the life history and transmission situation of different bearers of the festival. In addition, a series of monographs and academic papers on the festival inside and outside Sichuan Province were published successively.
Key safeguarding activities during the reporting period (2010-2015) are as follows:
—Provide major support for the bearers
Cultural departments at all levels made a series of incentive measures and preferential policies to help bearers recover basic living after the earthquake as soon as possible, so that they could actively cultivate intergenerational transmitters to lay the foundation for the viability of the element. In addition, various measures were taken to support the element and the representative bearers of heritage including shbi chanting, saleng dance, and the sheepskin drum dance. Moreover, an award fund was established for the bearers to encourage them to accept apprentices and impart skills, thus cultivating and reserving more transmitters.
—Gradually restore the residence settlement and cultural space indispensable for the element during post-earthquake reconstruction
During post-earthquake reconstruction, in order to show full respect for regional cultural identity of the ethnic minority and the will of local residents, counties in Qiang residential areas and their respective counterpart provinces and cities held workshops and training classes with experts giving instructions and Qiang representative bearers of fortress building invited to impart stone-building techniques; guided by the principle of “restoring the old as the old and respecting the original appearance,” and all renovations were carried out under the premise of maintaining the original appearance to restore the residential buildings in Qiang villages as they were before the earthquake for the realization of systematic safeguarding of residence settlement patterns and living environments with folk custom. Culture stations were built in all villages and towns with a series of Qiang cultural facility and practice and transmission training centers for the festival to encourage bearers to accept apprentices and impart skills, providing a broader transmission space for the element. Furthermore, measures taken for natural environment safeguarding also promoted the ecological recovery of the festival custom and related cultural space (the sacred mountain, sacred forests and altars, etc.).
—Carry out systematic survey, collection and digital documentation of the element and related intangible cultural heritage resources
From 2009 to 2012, the cultural authority of Sichuan province built professional teams to carry out field survey on Qiang intangible cultural heritage and bearers in 4 counties, 15 towns and 18 villages of the Qiang residential area, focusing on the recording of the element and related intangible cultural heritage including the cultural components of the festival as mountain sacrifice and votive offering, shbi chanting, sheepskin drum dance and saleng dance, as well as oral classics (myths, epics, legends and ballads) and performing arts related to the element; conducted general surveys on the viability situation of the element in counties, townships, towns and villages in major transmission areas, and collected a series of cultural subjects related to the festival, including a full set of sacrifice implements for shbi during the salvage safeguarding. During the past 6 years, the cultural authorities of all counties in the Qiang residential area have carried out general surveys in more than a hundred villages, recording and filing the folk cultural art resources involved in the festival activity and major bearers.
—Carry out detailed recording of the current situation of the element as well as its bearers and practitioners
Sichuan Music and Dance Institute, after the overall surveys in Wenchuan, Li, Mao and Songpan of Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture and Beichuan Qiang Autonomous county and Pingwu, Mianyang city, compiled and published in March 2012 Documentation on Bearers of Qiang New Year Festival recording the information of 350 Qiang intangible cultural heritage bearers, among which 63 are bearers of the festival, including a female bearer. The documentation described with pictures and texts the history, current situation, content format and craftsmanship as well as basic information of the bearers, fully presenting the Qiang culture and viability situation of bearers after the earthquake. It not only provides detailed, accurate and scientific theoretical basis for the salvage safeguarding as well as restoration and reconstruction of the Qiang Culture, but also lays a solid material foundation for the transmission and development of intangible cultural heritage projects such as Qiang New Year Festival.
—Introduce the intangible cultural heritages into schools, classes and textbooks
Intangible cultural heritage transmission was conducted in an organized way as planned in primary and secondary schools inside Qiang residential areas with groups of bearers standing on the rostrum, which was a great success for exploring new methods of intergenerational transmission during the safeguarding practice of the element. For example, the festival customs culture and folk art were introduced to Keku Primary School in Wenchuan by employing bearers for classes and organizing the festival related interest groups as Qiang flute, Qiang embroidery, saleng dance and sheepskin drum dance, etc, thus helping students to understand, transmit and publicize their own culture with their cultural pride stimulated. Intangible cultural heritage was also introduced to the schools, classes and textbooks in Beichuan, Mao and Li so that it can be emphasized from school age for the children, thus stimulating the integrated development of intangible cultural heritage transmission and school education. The textbook Qiang Language and Words, compiled by Beichuan Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Press, Publication and Tourism, was popularized in some schools from autumn of 2015 with full coverage of courses from kindergarten to primary and secondary schools. The measure is of great significance for the safeguarding and transmission of the whole Qiang culture.
—Utilize methods loved by the mass to enhance visibility of the element
Methods loved by the mass including radio, television, training, lecture, picture exhibition, documentary and musical drama together with activities as Cultural Heritage Day and International Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival in Chengdu, China were utilized to carry out in-depth publication of the concrete measures that had been taken and the significance of the festival safeguarding in general. For the past 6 years in the four counties of the Qiang residential areas, there were totally 370 (8 “entering schools” included) folk custom cultural demonstration performances or itinerant exhibitions of the element with 518 thousand audiences, 42 folk custom activities held by related communities with 466 thousand participants, 108 practice and transmission activities of the festival among the grass roots with 51.6 thousand participants, 25 government-level safeguarding training of the festival with 6.5 thousand trainees, covering 1.0421 million people in total. Moreover, the staff of the cultural center and television stations of each county went to Qiang villages for documentary shooting, making 21 feature films in Beichuan such as War Between the Qiang and Ge, saleng of the Qiang, etc., which were broadcasted on Beichuan TV before the Qiang New Year Festival 2015; while the large-scale music drama Qiang Spirit created with elements of the festival presents the historical culture, living style and local customs of the Qiang.
（1）The intergenerational transmission of shbi culture is confronted with various challenges. Most of the shbis who are able to preside over the festival are aged with 6 of them having passed away in the past 6 years. Moreover, the intergenerational transmission is faced with more severe challenges due to shrinking ritual space and loss of the mother tongue’s natural environment. Although the main force of the festival bearers are at their 50s or 60s living in rural areas under great pressure, there are still 35 county-level bearers who are not covered by government subsidy up to now. Therefore, it is pressing to reinforce bearer safeguarding by absorbing more young and vigorous shbis of profound achievements into the transmission safeguarding mechanism.
（2）The Qiang people are faced with acute cross-cultural adaption issues after their relocation. Since the ecological environment indispensable for the Qiang culture was destroyed by the earthquake, a large number of Qiang people were relocated from their original hometown, while those whose houses were slightly damaged still live in their original houses after reinforcement and renovation, thus presenting the living pattern of “one village, two places.. For this reason, during post-earthquake reconstruction, the disaster-affected Qiang people were up against both community inclusion and culture adaption, which involves the differences between rural culture and urban culture as well as the differences between different regional culture and ethnic culture. The earthquake-affected people are bound to meet with cultural and mental adaption and integration once moving to a new community with the mother tongue especially, since the major carrier of certain ethnic culture, is faced with tough choices in formal education.
—The bearers played leading roles in related communities
According to the Qiang tradition, shbi transmission is restricted inside the family from an elder generation to the sons and nephews to finally form a shbi clan, which however, has witnessed certain breakthroughs during the past 6 years. A practice and transmission training center set up in Longxi Township, Wenchuan County had broken the family transmission restriction to gradually open the transmission to the general public, which substantially expanded the transmission range. For example, Wang Xiaogang and the Wang Xiaoyong brothers, after taking the initiative to learn the altar chanting from the elder shbi Zhourun Qingbao in a neighboring village, became the youngest shbis among the neighborhood with a basic grasp of the ritual process and major classics. In June 2011, shbi Wang Zhisheng organized a shbi classics culture study group in Qiangfeng Village, Wenchuan County with 6 apprentices accepted, and bought equipment at their own expenses to shoot and record a large number of shbi chanting despite of budget shortage. shbi Mu Guangyuan, in addition to publicizing Qiang New Year Festival culture in Shiyi Village, Qushan Town for years with efforts for the planning and implementation of its reconstruction, also filed the legends of this village and imparted the residents with Qiang folk songs and etiquette. As the epitomes of all representative bearers, the above-mentioned shbis play significant roles with active participation in the safeguarding activities via festival ritual practice and daily life practice.
—Community organizations of Qiang residential areas carried out safeguarding measures voluntarily
The restoring force for the element mainly comes from the general masses, especially the grass roots community organizations of various regions. As is shown by incomplete statistics, there are 19 non-governmental associations (see section B.5) active during the festival activities in the villages of the four counties of Qiang residential areas, effortlessly stimulating the festival revitalization in the practice and transmission training centers of the element. According to the incomplete statistics, the 19 grass roots community organizations actively practicing the element safeguarding in the 4 counties of Qiang residential areas cover 3,508 staff, including 2,259 female staff which accounts for 64.4 percent of the total.
—Intelligence participation by professional institute, local society, students organization in college and university, experts and scholars
Many academic institutions, including Sichuan Provincial Academy of Arts, Research Center of Qiang Culture Safeguarding and Development in the Academy of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage, Practice and the Training and Practice Center of Qiang Culture of Sichuan Provincial Qiang Culture Society have made significant contributions to the safeguarding and transmission of the element. Students’ associations in colleges and universities including Promotion Association of Qiang Culture Safeguarding and Development in Sichuan University of Culture and Arts, Qiang Flute Culture Association in Southwest University for Nationalities, with their 1,500 school members, motivate a total of 8,000 students to participate in campus activities of the festival per year. www.cnqiangzu.com and www.qiangmin.org, established by the Qiang culture society, released about a hundred articles regarding the element and safeguarding activities successively. During the reporting period, related academic research activities were carried out in succession with a series of significant achievements published, including The Documentary of Qiang Culture Bearers, Qiang New Year Festival (Chinese and English version) and The Compilation of Qiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Directories in Sichuan Province compiled by Sichuan Provincial Academy of Arts and important monographs as Qiang shbi Classics, Qiang shbi Record and Journal of Qiang New Year Festival published successively. In addition, there were more than a hundred academic papers concerning the element and its safeguarding practice including interdisciplinary researches, paying special attention to the element as well as related intangible cultural heritage items from the perspective of disaster anthropology in particular.
Thanks to the active organization and coordination by culture centers and intangible cultural heritage safeguarding institutions of the four counties of the Qiang residential areas, the Qiang people, representative bearers, community organizations, teenagers of primary and secondary schools, and the general public benefited from full participation in the safeguarding practice activities of the festival. During the past 6 years, approximately 23,800 people in total from intangible cultural heritage safeguarding institutions of the four counties of Qiang residential area had participated in the safeguarding measures of the element.
（1）Support and assistance for bearers
From 2009 to 2010, the central government and Sichuan provincial government provided national-level and provincial-level representative bearers of the Qiang New Year Festival with an annual subsidy of 8,000RMB and 5,000 RMB per person respectively.
From 2011 to 2015, the annual subsidy for national-level bearers by the central government amounted to 10,000 RMBn while that for provincial-level bearers remained unchanged.
In 2014, the Mianyang municipal government provided municipal-level bearers an annual subsidy of 2,000 RMB per person and Beichuan county government provided county-level bearers 800 RMB per person annually.
In 2015, Aba Prefecture government arranged special funds to subsidize prefecture-level intangible cultural heritage bearers with 3,000 RMB per person per year.
For the past 6 years, 29 bearers have received a total of 6,332,000 RMB with 198,000 RMB from the central government and 435,200 RMB from local governments.
（2）Set up practice and transmission training centers of the festival
In 2011, the practice and transmission training center of the festival of Longxi Township, Wenchuan County completed construction with a covered area of about 1,000 square meters. The center was built by Zhanjiang City, Guangdong Province as the counterpart city with a total investment of 2.3 million RMB.
In 2012, the practice and training center of the festival of Heihu Township, Mao County completed construction with a covered area of about 1,000 square meters. The center was built by Shanxi Province as counterpart province with a total investment of about 2.9 million RMB. In 2013, 1 million RMB was appropriated for the fitting-out of the training center.
In 2012, the practice and training center of the festival of Beichuan County completed construction with a covered area of about 1,000 square meters and floor space of 2,000 square meters. The center was built by Shandong Province as counterpart province with a total investment of about 3.25 million RMB.
In 2013, construction of the practice and transmission training center of the festival of Li County was completed with a covered area of about 3,000 square meters. The center was built with a total investment of about 11 million RMB provided by the central government and the county government.
In 2014, Bureau of Culture, Sports, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication in Wenchuan County provided a subsidy of 200,000 RMB to support the construction of Practice and Training Center of Ancient Qiang Culture of Dasi Village, which was initiated with self-raised funding by Yang Zhiwen, a villager of Dasi Village, Keku Townshp.
In 2015, 30,000 RMB was appropriated for cleaning the debris flow hitting the practice and transmission training center of the festival in Longxi Township, Wenchuan County.
（3）Special safeguarding activities for the festival
From 2010 to 2011, the state made annual investments of 1 million RMB respectively for the 4 counties of the Qiang residential areaS for the festival safeguarding activities, totaling 8 million RMB;
In 2012, the state increased its investment to 1.5 million RMB respectively for the four counties for the festival safeguarding activities, totaling 6 million RMB;
In 2013, the central government appropriated 1.2 million RMB to Beichuan County and Wenchuan County respectively and 1.25 million RMB to Li as special safeguarding fund, totaling 3.65 million RMB;
In 2013, the Mao County government appropriated 480,000 RMB and the Li County government appropriated 580,000 RMB as special fund for the festival; a Guinness record of saleng dance by 10 thousand people was organized in Beichuan County as an activity of the festival with 350,000 RMB provided by the local government; furthermore, 300,000 RMB was subsidized for traditional sacrifice of the festival in Qiang villages and towns; and all these investments total 1.71 million RMB.
In 2014, the central government appropriated 1.75 million RMB to Beichuan County and Li County respectively as special safeguarding fund and appropriated 160,000 RMB for safeguarding activities of the element in Wenchuan County, with the total investment numbering 3.66 million RMB;
In 2014, Li County government provided 250,000 RMB as special funding for the festival in Li County; drum dance by a thousand people was carried out in downtown Beichuan County with a budget of 486,000 RMB appropriated by the local government; traditional sacrifices and other activities are conducted in villages and towns with a subsidy of 300,000 RMB, with the total appropriation staying at 1.036 million RMB.
From 2014 to 2015, Wenchuan County government has appropriated 75,000 RMB and 83,000 RMB for the festival activities in villages including Yanmen Township, Weizhou Town, Longxi Township and Miansi Town, which totals 158,000 RMB.
In 2015, the central government appropriated 1.05 million RMB and 1.15 million RMB for Beichuan County and Li County respectively as special safeguarding fund and provided 10,000 RMB for the festival safeguarding activities in Wenchuan County, which numbers 2.21 million RMB in total.
In 2015, the Li County government appropriated a total of 540,000 RMB as special safeguarding fund for the local festival.
From 2013 to 2015, the central government provided 1.84 million RMB as special safeguarding funding for Mao County, and the Mao County government appropriated about 1.35 million RMB for the festival safeguarding activities, numbering a total of 3.19 million RMB.
（4）Establish digital resources databases for Qiang intangible cultural heritage
In 2011, data collection and recording of Qiang intangible cultural heritage was completed with the investment of about 600,000 RMB form Sichuan Provincial government.
In 2012, the resource database of Qiang intangible cultural heritage was established with the investment of about RMB 3.8 million RMB.
In 2013, Mao county purchased a set of media assets management system for digital filing of the element and Qiang intangible cultural heritage as well as bearers’ information with more than 600,000 RMB.
From 2013 to 2015, Qiang intangible cultural heritage resources database was under the process of organization and collection with its maintenance costs appropriated by Sichuan Provincial Academy of Arts with its daily working expenditure.
（5）Publish a series of the festival culture research achievements
In 2012, The Documentary of Qiang Culture Bearers was published with an investment of 340,000 RMB by Sichuan Provincial government.
In 2012, Qiang New Year Festival (Chinese and English version) was published with an investment of 200,000 RMB from Sichuan Provincial government.
In 2013, The Compilation of Qiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Directories in Sichuan Province was published with an investment of 200,000 RMB from Sichuan Provincial government.
From 2013 to 2015, the textbook Qiang Language and Words had undergone the process of being compiled, revised, on trial and popularized to some schools with a total of 80,000 RMB compiling fund provided by Bureau of Culture, Radio, Press, Publication and Tourism in Beichuan County and Bureau of Education and Sports of Beichuan County together.
In 2014, the Practice and Transmission Training Center of Ancient Qiang Culture of Dasi Village, which enjoys a covered area of 1,600 square meters, was built with a total investment of 8 million RMB including a capital contribution of the initiator Yang Zhiwen, a resident of Dasi Village, Keku Township.
In 2015, there were a total of 350,000 RMB provided by social organizations in Li County for safeguarding practice of the festival.
In addition, during the post-earthquake reconstruction, a series of folk custom subjects related to the festival, and Qiang ethnic cultural relics as well, were collected from the Qiang people and different sectors of the society with or without compensation via online information released by museums and practice and transmission training centers of the festival in different regions.
During the reporting period which falls within the critical period for post Wenchuan earthquake reconstruction, Sichuan Province successively formulated Outline of Post-earthquake Intangible Cultural Heritage Rescue, Safeguarding, Restoration and Reconstruction in Sichuan Province and Planning of Qiang Culture Ecological Safeguarding Experimental Zone, giving priority to Qiang intangible culture heritage safeguarding among various post-earthquake cultural restoration and reconstruction projects. Furthermore, Intangible Cultural Heritage Law of The People’s Republic of China and Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding Regulation of Aba Autonomous Prefecture issued and implemented successively in 2011 provides legal ground and institutional guarantee for the safeguarding and transmission of Qiang New Year Festival.
After the Wenchuan earthquake, the state has carried out unified planning for post-earthquake reconstruction with great financial support. As for the festival safeguarding plan, the Sichuan Provincial government made a unified deployment with clear segregation of duties for different counterpart units and safeguarding groups, which effectively prevented the overlap of manpower and capital. During implementation of the festival safeguarding measures, cultural departments at all levels coordinated and cooperated following the guidance of “government leading, civil organization and mass participation” with integrated human resources, helping to achieve safeguarding goals with less funding and enhance the safeguarding responsibility and awareness of all communities in the meantime. During the practice, bearers and practitioners group, community organizations, local societies, government sectors at all levels, the educational circles and the press circles all took active part in making their own contributions for the restoration of the element. By now, it has become a social consensus to maintain the vitality of the element and related Qiang intangible cultural heritage by participation, interaction, experience and transmission.
—Efficiency of activities
In general, all safeguarding measures involved during the reporting period have been well implemented and expanded with the expected results achieved. At present, the infrastructure constructed, including a series of traditional Qiang villages, sacrifice venues, fortress and towers, folk custom exhibition halls and practice and transmission training centers, etc., which are significant cultural venues for the element, plays a supporting role as expected. 64 representative bearers of the element have been identified with 29 of them receiving subsidies from governments at different levels; intergenerational transmission of the element has been promoted with integration of tradition education and school education; viability of the element has been clearly enhanced during the practices of related communities and groups with several regional festival cultural activities as saleng dance, sheepskin drum dance, Qiang flute, Qiang embroidery, mountain circumambulation and Qiang-style drum being restored and transmitted successively together with the festival activities during post-earthquake reconstruction. All these correlated intangible cultural heritage safeguarding practices not only reinforced the cultural carrier of the element, but also enriched the daily lives of the Qiang people. The organization of localized annual celebration of the festival, in particular, constantly raises the cognition and safeguarding awareness of intangible cultural heritage among the young generation.
During the post-earthquake reconstruction, thanks to the festival safeguarding, people started to pay close attention to intangible cultural heritage transmission in the earthquake-stricken area with the related safeguarding practices playing significance roles for community cohesion and cultural identity rebuilding. The theory of harmony between man and nature advocated in the sacrifice rituals during the festival in particular has played a positive leading role in recovering natural ecology of the community. Moreover, special safeguarding for shbi bearers and related ritual practices, as an irreplaceable element for post-earthquake mental adjustment in the community, helps the Qiang people to resume their optimistic and grateful spirit.
The festival safeguarding during post-earthquake reconstruction shows its particularities. First, governments at all levels integrated the safeguarding of the element and the Qiang intangible cultural heritage into post-earthquake restoration and reconstruction with a series of rules and regulations to standardize management for the implementation of all safeguarding measures. Government at all levels set up special fund to increase investment in intangible cultural heritage safeguarding; established project input mechanisms regarding infrastructure construction, data collection and organization, representative bearers subsidy, talent cultivation and transmission activities, etc. so as to control funding flow and to earmark the funding for its specific purpose with special accounting. These measures helped to achieve expected goals during the safeguarding activities with improved fund efficiency. According to the statistics of related data (see section B.3d), a major part of the earlier funding input went to the construction of practice and transmission training centers, while the later mainly used for the festival safeguarding practice and support for organized practice and transmission activities inside the community, which is reasonable for post-earthquake reconstruction of Qiang residential area and overall safeguarding of Qiang intangible cultural heritage.
—Available human resources are still restricted
At present, there are 5 professional intangible cultural heritage safeguarding institutions in the four counties of the Qiang residential area with only 11 staff, meaning 2.2 staff on average for each institution. As for the government management who depend on grass roots towns and villages as well as cultural centers of related counties, available human resources are still greatly limited. Therefore, it is of top priority to create more local management positions with active introduction and cultivation of professionals on intangible cultural heritage.
Since the Qiang New Year Festival was inscribed on the List, villagers from Qiang residential areas have enhanced their identification for the value of the festival. On every first day of the tenth lunar month, all shbis and representative bearers of the festival as well as most Qiang villagers participate in sacrificial rituals and celebration activities spontaneously. Villagers from Qiang residential areas also actively take part in the safeguarding and transmission activities for the festival.
—A network of joint safeguarding actions from communities, experts, local associations, specialized center, research institutions, colleges, universities, primary and secondary schools gradually comes into being
Prior to the festival in 2010, the First Symposium on Intangible Cultural Heritages of Qiang People and Post-disaster Reconstruction was held in Sichuan University of Culture and Arts (original Mianyang Arts College of Sichuan Conservatory of Music), where about 60 researchers on Qiang culture and bearers of Qiang flute, music, dance and embroidery from different places gathered for discussions. In June 2011, the First Symposium on Salvage and Safeguarding of shbi Culture of the Qiang People was held in Mao County, where shbi bearers from counties of Mao, Wenchuan, Li, Songpan and Beichuan (Mianyang City) as well as Ningqiang County of Shaanxi Province actively participated in the discussion. Thereafter, a dozen of community associations, civil organizations and students’ associations (see section B.3c) in colleges and universities emerged in Qiang residential areas; together with bearers and experts of intangible cultural heritages related to the festival, they carried out various activities in daily life spontaneously to combine the safeguarding of festival culture with living practice of local Qiang people, gradually forming several new safeguarding and transmission modes, some of which are as follows:
(1) A'er Village mode: villagers organize activities voluntarily
A'er Village of Wenchuan County assembled villagers from fortresses ofA'er, Baduo, Baijiaduo and Gelibie to hold sacrificial rituals of the festival through self-raised fund and supplies and gathered heads of all households to discuss issues on festival culture safeguarding collectively. In 2011, A'er Archives co-signed by A'er Villagers was published by Cultural Relics Press. The book is filled with materials on historical lifestyles and cultural context of the Qiang people compiled by villagers independently and supplemented with photo and video data on Qiang culture taken by villagers, comprehensively reflecting the customs of the festival and related folk life.
(2) Dasi Village mode: enthusiasts of folk culture establishes practice and transmission training center on his own
To safeguard and transmit the cultural traditions of Qiang people, Yang Zhiwen, chairman of the village committee of Dasi Village, Keku Township, Wenchuan County, appropriated 8 million RMB by himself to build the Dasi Practice and Training Center of Ancient Qiang Culture (renamed Dasi Ancient Qiang Museum later) from 2012 to 2014, with a covered area of 1,600 square meters. Besides exhibiting hundreds of articles of folk culture collected by him, the center also provides an interactive platform for villagers to carry out practice and transmission activities regularly. In the meantime, Yang Zhiwen led villagers to afforest barren mountains with seven-year efforts, which not only restored and rebuilt the space for the votive offering to the mountain damaged in the earthquake, but brought modern agriculture, ecological tourism and ancient Qiang culture safeguarding into sustainable development, with the annual per-capita income of the village exceeding more than 8,000 RMB.
(3) Li County mode: schools introduce intangible cultural heritages into class in cooperation with associations
Schools in Li County successively compiled textbooks on folk culture to introduce intangible cultural heritages of Qiang people into education in kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools as special programs; in the meantime, they adopted the “association plus school' mode, in which A'erge Ancient Qiang Association would send members to train and teach students regularly, promoting the introduction of intangible cultural heritages in schools. As a result, primary and secondary schools in Ganpu Town and Tonghua Town established interest groups separately, including Qiang harmonica playing team, Qiang-style shoe making team, sheepskin drum team, Bobasengen dancing team and suona playing team; Puxi Primary School established the Practice and Transmission Base for Ancient Qiang Culture officially, to carry out practice and transmission activities including folk customs of the festival in extracurricular time.
(4) Interactive mode among counties of Beichuan, Mao, Wenchuan and Li: joint activities in Qiang residential areas
Around 1988, four counties of Qiang residential areas jointly held “Qiang New Year Festival Gala” more than once: hosted by counties in turn, the gala was attended by delegates from all counties, who were able to learn from each other in related folk arts like the Qiang flute and Qiang embroidery; at the same time, economic exchange and academic discussion also took place.. This interactive mode was continued and expanded in post-disaster reconstruction, especially playing a positive role in enhancing cultural identity and social cohesion between relocated earthquake victims and local communities. For example, cultural activities of Qiang New Year Festival themed with Joint Celebration of Qiang People in Beichuan were carried out in November 2015, when Qiang people from major residential areas including counties of Mao, Li, Wenchuan, Songpan and Pingwu of Sichuan Province and sparsely populated counties of Feng, Lueyang and Ningqiang of Shaanxi Province, gathered in Beichuan to express their wishes and pray for offspring through such festival activities as sacrificial rituals, antiphonal singing and saleng dance. This shows that the interactive mode among counties of Beichuan, Mao, Wenchuan and Li provides an extended way of practice for the safeguarding of the festival, making the relocated groups and individuals participate in the safeguarding and transmission activities for the experience of going back home to celebrate the festival and to keep spiritual connections with the homeland, thereby finding a sense of cultural identity after relocation.
—Continue commitment of communities, groups and individuals as well as relevant non-governmental organizations to further safeguarding
All of Qiang shbis and representative bearers expressed their willingness to transmit their skills to successors without reservation in order to maintain the traditional forms of the festival as long as possible. Wang Zhisheng, a shbi from Qiangfeng Village of Miansi Town, Wenchuan County in his eighties, trains and teaches 3 apprentices at present, and he said that “my greatest hope is that, in my remaining years, someone could learn what I learned during my lifetime and transmit it.” Wang Xiaogang, a shbi from Xiuxi Village of Li County born in 1980s, also said that “my greatest desire is to transmit the shbi culture of Qiang people and let more people understand and love our culture.” What the two said reflects the wishes of shbis generation after generation.
In the two investigations by questionnaire, all of the 19 community associations, 6 local societies and 4 students’ associations stated that they would always cooperate with authorities concerned as well as primary and secondary schools in the transmission practice of the festival, and furthermore, that they would attract more young people to become members and would propose new measures for future safeguarding practices in accordance with characteristics of folk life, thereby bringing the festival back to fortress villages on the basis of cultural space and making the safeguarding practice become the impetus to maintain the community cohesion.
a. the competent bodies involved in its management and/or safeguarding:
Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Sichuan Province
Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province
Bureau of Culture, Sports, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province
Bureau of Culture, Sports, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication of Li County
Bureau of Culture, Sports, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication of Mao County
Bureau of Culture, Radio, Film, Television, Press and Publication of Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County
b. the organizations of the community or group concerned with the element and its safeguarding:
—organizations of the community or group:
Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County: Beichuan Erma Culture Association, Beichuan Ethnic Art Troupe, Beichuan Gamicha Culture Association, Beichuan Sunflower Culture and Sports Association, Ancient Qiang Association of Piankou Town, Beichuan Azalea Art Troupe, Beichuan Qiang Embroidery Association and Beichuan saleng Association
Mao County: Guni Qiang Culture Association and Erma Culture Association
Wenchuan County: Wenchuan Azalea Art Troupe, Folk Culture and Art Association of Luobo Village in Yanmen Town, Dayu Culture Association of Miansi Town and shbi Culture Association of Longxi Town
Li County: Qiang saleng Association, shbi Opera Association of Puxi Village, A'erge Ancient Qiang Association of Xishan Village in Tonghua County, Guozhuang Association of Muka Town and Ancient Qiang Primitive Guozhuang Association of Xuecheng Town
—local societies, professional centers and research institutions
Aba Prefectural Tibetan and Qiang Cultures Research Group, Qiang Society of Aba Prefectural, Qiang Culture Research Group of Feng County, Shaanxi Province, Sichuan Provincial Qiang Culture Society, Sichuan Provincial Academy of Arts and Research Center of Qiang Culture Safeguarding and Development in the Academy of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage
—students’ associations in colleges and universities
Promotion Association of Qiang Culture Safeguarding and Development in Sichuan University of Culture and Arts, Qiang Flute Culture Association in Southwest University for Nationalities, Qiang Culture Association in Aba Teachers University and Qiang Culture Association in Sichuan Normal University
In preparing this report, the Cultural Department of Sichuan Province, together with the Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritages of Sichuan Province and Sichuan Provincial Academy of Arts, consulted communities, groups and individuals concerned for opinions and suggestion through on-the-spot investigation, interviews with bearers and feedback discussions in communities, during which cultural authorities from four counties in Qiang residential areas played a positive role in coordination and liaison while representative villagers, bearers and community organizations in every Qiang village provided information on the implementation of festival activities and its safeguarding status since October 2009 through questionnaire. The preparation of the reports experienced the following three stages:
At the end of April 2013, authorities concerned held a conference for scheduling the preparation of the report in Wenchuan County of Aba Prefecture, during which the importance of this work was underlined. Questionnaire on the Implementation of Safeguarding Measures for Qiang New Year Festival was issued, and Sichuan Provincial Academy of Arts was authorized to establish a working group for report preparation (hereafter referred to as “working group”), launching the preparation work.
In March 2014, the working group contacted cultural authorities from four counties of Qiang residential areas and trusted specialists to collect information and data among related communities and bearer representatives; in order to provide concrete information for the amendment and supplement of the report, all participants gave instant feedback that was summarized in a chronicle of Qiang New Year Festival safeguarding from 2009 to 2013, covering achievements in intangible cultural heritage safeguarding made by counties of Qiang residential areas.
From February to March 2016, the working group successively consulted communities, groups, associations and individuals for suggestions through questionnaires, collecting related information on safeguarding activities and teaching practice of bearers from 2013 to 2015; in the meantime, Qiang experts in Sichuan Province collected information on safeguarding activities of community organizations, civil societies, academic institutions, colleges and universities for the working group according to the questionnaire and issue list. Based on the questionnaire results, the working group completed the amendment, supplement and finalization of the report according to Statistics on Status of Representative Bearers of Qiang New Year Festival and Statistics on Safeguarding Activities of Qiang New Year Festival Organized by Communities.
Director General, Bureau for External Cultural Relations, Ministry of Culture, People's Republic of China