About CHP

Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) is a small grassroots, legally-registered NGO working to protect cultural heritage across China.

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Heritage Trail project

Prince Claus Fund Assists A’er Villagers Preserving A Thousand-year-old Stone Tower

Qiang people is perhaps one of the most courageous and legendary people in the world. The rich cultural heritage of Qiang people has contributed to the cultural diversity of the mankind. At the same time, it has also become the important driving force for the region’s sustainable development.

A Shaman of the A’er Village


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Local conservation group sets sights on ethnic Qiang village in Sichuan

Beijing Today, July 29, 2011

Ethnic Qiang culture is being preserved by the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center

By Yao Weijie

The Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) announced Saturday it will try to protect the cultural heritage of A’er village, focusing on recording its ethnic Qiang culture and villagers’ customs.

After the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, A’er, where a large group of Qiang people live, was badly destroyed.

The remote village is located deep in a valley on the Tibetan Plateau near the upper reaches of the Min River. Due to its isolated location, the village has become one of the last major repositories of traditional Qiang culture.

CHP, which is partially funded by the US and Swiss embassies, began a revitalization effort in 2009.

Six volunteers, experts in film and TV, science and law, were chosen online in Beijing.

“The trip to the A’er village was unforgettable,” said Wang Yunxiao, a professor of law at Renmin University and the leader of the group.

Wang led the group in helping A’er villagers one step at a time. They organized a team comprising shibi, who are authoritative intellectuals from Qiang culture, village officials and warm-hearted villagers.

They celebrated the new Qiang calendar year with villagers in heavy snow amid ruins, and eventually won their trust.

In the end, the volunteers helped villagers compile and publish a book about their culture.

Before the earthquake, there were many writers, sociologists and activists who visited A’er to investigate their unique culture. The villagers were getting used to their visits. Gradually, villagers realized they had something unique, said Guo Ping, a volunteer. “But they never told their own stories to the outside world.”

The most recent project tried to get villagers to tell their own stories.

“We tried not to be subjective, but listened to the villagers’ narration,” Guo said. “The villagers are the subjects of this project. Perhaps their words aren’t as polished, their photos not as vivid, their films not perfect, but they presented something that was real and came from the heart.”

“We still have many regrets,” Wang said.

Because villagers were not involved in the fullest possible extent, communication was not always direct and open, she said.

During the project, village volunteers tried to record every aspect of Qiang culture. The older villagers who could not read or write told their stories and were recorded; villagers who were getting married also invited volunteers to record their ceremony.

While the book is complete, volunteers are currently working on editing a documentary to be shown around the country.

Documentary on Unique Cultural Traditions of the Qiang People

China Radio International [July 28, 2011]

Qiang people at a celebration

Following the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008, the ancient village of A’er, home to the Qiang ethnic people of China, was in danger of being wiped out after nearly a thousand years.

Now, not only has their tangible heritage – the village stupa and temple – been restored, but also their intangible heritage thanks to a comprehensive documentary film about Qiang culture produced by the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

Nillah Nyakoa attended the premier screening of the documentary to bring us this report.


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Event lowdown | Recording A’er: Archives of the Qiang Culture

A new bride and groom

As a picture slideshow of a select group of people from the A’er village played, crowds of attendees began to fill the seats of Penghao Theater at Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center’s (CHP) Recording A’er event on Saturday, July 23.

Who were the faces on the screen? What were their stories? How were they involved with the presentation? These questions surely raced through the mind of the larger-than-expected audience as they waited for the event to begin.

The event was a summary and presentation of CHP’s ethnic minority revitalization project of the Qiang culture in the A’er village. The project started after the village suffered significant loss and devastation in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Funding was provided by the United States and Swiss embassies, and representatives from both embassies attended Saturday’s event.

The Qiang female outfits are usually decorated with hand stitched flower pattern in various colors

After opening remarks by CHP’s founder, He Shuzhong, a vivid slideshow film displayed different aspects of Qiang culture in the village, from architecture to dress, and daily life to traditional ceremonies. Leading figure in the project Wang Yunxia, then engaged the audience with a presentation on volunteers’ responsibilities and contributions. She explained that the main objective of CHP volunteers was to aid the A’er villagers in recording their culture themselves.

A short video documentary poignantly depicted the sentiments and dedication of the A’er villagers who willingly and enthusiastically volunteered their time and efforts for this project. The pictures playing at the beginning of the event were of these committed villagers. As the event officially ended, many lingered behind to chat with people involved in the project and the event.

Qiang men

CHP was surprised at the amazing turnout and excited about the heightened interest in cultural preservation and ethnic minority cultures, and are very grateful for everyone’s support.

Recording A’er: Archives of the Qiang Minority Culture

Recording A'er

Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) is excited to present Recording A’er, a presentation and documentary screening of a heart-warming ethnic minority revitalization effort that started after the destruction caused by the Great Sichuan Earthquake in 2008.

It features the A’er village and the fading Qiang minority culture.

Awarded funding by the US and Swiss Embassies, this project was designed to complete a comprehensive record of the unique Qiang culture as well as restore villagers’ dignity and confidence in their own customs.

This event hopes to show the world their rich cultural heritage.

Details:

When: 3pm to 4.30pm, Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where: Penghao Theatre, 35 Dongmianhua Hutong (south gate of the Central Academy of Drama, between Nanluogu Xiang and Jiadaokou Nandajie, Dongcheng District (东棉花胡同35号)

Admission free.

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