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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



A woman in A’er Village

A woman in A’er Village

The A’er villagers love their own heritage and they have been very proactive in shouldering the responsibility of preserving the Qiang culture. When the aftershocks of the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 were still active, the A’er villagers had already started the A’er Archive Project, documenting, and saving the Qiang cultural and tradition in the A’er village. And this once again had demonstrated the courage of the Qiang people. In the high mountains of the A’er Village, there is a thousand-year-old Qiang stone tower. It had witnessed so much happiness and tragedy of the human beings, and had survived numerous natural disasters, yet it is very dilapidated although it is still standing. The stone towers of Qiang people are very important carriers of the Qiang culture. They served as guardians of the Qiang people, and reflected their unique values as well as capability. The A’er villagers consider this stone tower a symbol of their ancestors’ spirit, a shelter of their deity, so they had tried hard to preserve it, and prayed for its safety to heaven.

A’er Archive, A book published by the Cultural Heritage Press in 2011, with A’er villagers enjoying full intellectual property rights.

A’er Archive, A book published by the Cultural Heritage Press in 2011, with A’er villagers enjoying full intellectual property rights.

The top of the damaged Qiang stone tower

The top of the damaged Qiang stone tower

The interior of the damaged Qiang stone tower

The interior of the damaged Qiang stone tower

The foundation of the damaged Qiang stone tower

The foundation of the damaged Qiang stone tower

Prince Claus Fund recognizes the importance of preserving cultural diversity, and consider the thousand-year-old Qiang stone tower a heritage of mankind, so they firmly believe that the A’er Qiang stone tower has a irreplaceable status in promoting the development of the diversity of cultural forms. They are also moved by the persistence and courage of the A’er villagers, so the Prince Claus Fund decided to provide funding for the villagers to restore and preserve the ancient Qiang stone towers, so it can be passed down to future generations, and protect the prosperity of the Qiang people.

At the help and encouragement of the Prince Claus Fund, A’er villagers carried out the restoration work of the ancient Qiang stone tower in the fall and winter of 2012. During the restoration work, A’er villagers followed faithfully the international principles on ancient architecture preservation. They used only the authentic materials and the original craftsmanship, so the historical information of the ancient Qiang stone tower was kept in the best possible way. They firmly believe that this ancient Qiang stone tower has witnessed their collective memory and emotion, so this tower has to be carefully restored and preserved, so further artificial damage could have been avoided. They laughed at those so-called historical preservation work in other places, as they observed a lack of respect to historical buildings, a lack of adoration for historical information, so in the end, many preservation work is a destruction of ancient buildings.

Worshipping Ceremony before the preservation work was carried out.

Worshipping Ceremony before the preservation work was carried out.

Reinforcing the foundation

Reinforcing the foundation

Local mud, timber and stone slabs are the materials used for the preservation work.

Local mud, timber and stone slabs are the materials used for the preservation work.

The restored wall and gate

The restored wall and gate

The last phase of the restoration work

The last phase of the restoration work

The interior structure of the stone tower is consistent for over a thousand years.

The interior structure of the stone tower is consistent for over a thousand years.

The single wood ladder to the top

The single wood ladder to the top

The top of the tower, well built with water proof layer

The top of the tower, well built with water proof layer

The White Stone God enshrined at the top of the tower

The White Stone God enshrined at the top of the tower

The village under the blessing of the Qiang stone tower

The village under the blessing of the Qiang stone tower

What has touched us most is that the support of Prince Claus Fund has intrigued the confidence and self-consciousness of the A’er villagers. They have now founded a Qiang Cultural Heritage Protection Association of the A’er Villagers, and plan to carry out monitoring work for the ancient Qiang stone tower, as well as various education and promotion activities for the Qiang culture. They have plans to work with more related organizations so that the well preserved Qiang culture of the A’er village and the thousand-year-old ancient Qiang stone tower would be able to play bigger roles in the preservation of cultural diversity of the mankind.

Logo of the Prince Claus Fund

Logo of the Prince Claus Fund

Logo of Qiang Cultural Heritage Protection Association of the A’er Villagers

Logo of Qiang Cultural Heritage Protection Association of the A’er Villagers

Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) would like to show our respect to Prince Claus Fund as well as the A’er villagers, and we feel privileged to be part of this exciting project. We truly hope that the Prince Claus Fund would be able to make greater contributions to the preservation and development of the world culture. We also truly hope that the Qiang Cultural Heritage Protection Association of the A’er Villagers will be able to make irreplaceable contributions to the preservation and development of the Qiang culture.

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