China / Society

Ethnic culture thrives after Sichuan quake

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-05-10 16:26

CHENGDU - Yeshe Karmo cheerfully greets visitors and shows them around an exhibition hall displaying folk culture and art of the ethnic Tibetan and Qiang in Southwest China's Sichuan province.

The 19-year-old Tibetan woman says she enjoys working as a guide at the site, where she also sells Katak, a white flaxen scarf the Tibetans present with respect, incense and other religious items.

Her workplace, a hall in Shuimo town of Wenchuan county, was built on the ruins of the 2008 earthquake and opened in September 2010 to showcase ethnic cultures representing 13 counties of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture. The attraction and its cheerful guide make a perfect example of how quake-hit Sichuan has recovered after the natural disaster, the fourth anniversary of which will be marked on Saturday.

Many parts of the province have become significant tourist attractions, with preservation of the area's unique ethnic culture an important part of rebuilding Sichuan.

That approach helped Shuimo, which now receives up to 20,000 visitors daily, win the "Global Best Implementation of Post-Disaster Reconstruction" award in the Sixth Global Forum on Human Settlements held at the United Nations headquarters last year.

Yeshe Karmo spends most of the day explaining Tibetan lifestyles and Buddhist rituals to curious visitors. "Sometimes more than 80 people listen to my presentation and that makes me feel rather accomplished," she says.

The young museum guide is from Rangtang county, a Tibetan community in Aba prefecture.

Tibetans make up 56.6 percent of Aba's 900,000 permanent residents and the Qiang people account for 18.5 percent.

Though she sometimes misses her parents, who still live in their ancestral home in Rangtang, Yeshe Karmo says her job keeps her busy and happy most of the time. "I think I will stay as long as they need me here," she adds.

The exhibition hall also profiles some of the best-known tourist destinations in Aba, including Jiuzhaigou -- or nine-village gorge, where lakes tinted jewel colours by minerals and algae are cradled by pristine forests, and the Siguniang mountain range, the tallest of which reaches to 6,250 meters and is capped with perennial ice and snow.

Shuimo has drawn large crowds of visitors for its beautiful landscape, successful rebuilding and unique ethnic cultures.

Visitors can see exquisite tile-roofed wooden buildings featuring a typical style of the local minorities as well as stores selling Tibetan and Qiang handicrafts arrayed along winding stone alleys in the small town.

Shuimo is about 10 km from Yingxiu town in Wenchuan, the epicenter of the magnitude-8.0 quake that left more than 80,000 people dead or missing on May 12, 2008.

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