On May 12th, a massive earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Wenchuan County of China‘s Sichuan Province, which also caused widespread damage in nearby Chongqing, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. The devastating disaster killed tens of thousands of lives and caused millions of people homeless. In face of the extreme difficulty, the whole Chinese nation have united together and supported the disaster relief work in their respective ways through thick and thin, displaying the admirable spirit of mutual help and protection of the Chinese nation. In the meantime, the disaster caused damage to many historical sites and cultural relics in the quake-hit area; the Chinese cultural heritage has suffered great losses.
Damaged Cultural Sites
Dujiangyan Irrigation SystemThe Dujiangyan Irrigation System was officially enlisted in the World Heritage List in the year 2000. Though Dujiangyan, the grand water conservancy project built in 256 B.C. has survived the quake as its core part has not been severely damaged, the major historical sites in the vicinity such as the Erwang Temple and the Fulong Taoist Temple have suffered a great loss.
- The Erwang Temple is the memorial temple of Li Bing and his son, the initiators of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, the former being the prefect of Shu Prefecture in the Qin Dynasty. The temple was first built in the Southern and Northern Dynasties and rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty, which has been kept until now. However, the ancient architectural complex of the Erwang Temple was hit by the earthquake and has almost become a pile of rubbles.
- The Fulong Taoist Temple, a Taoist historical site, got its name from the legend of Li Bing Subduing an evil dragon. First built in the Jin Dynasty, it is housing a number of cultural relics such as the stone statue of Li Bing carved in the Eastern Han Dynasty and the Flying Dragon Ding of the Tang Dynasty, etc. Suffering from the earthquake, the Fulong Taoist Temple has got sunken and cracking floors as well as severely distorted buildings which seem to be tumbledown.
- Covering an area of 140,000 square meters, the Temple of Marquis Wu in Chengdu consists of the joint temple of King Liu Bei and his subject Zhuge Liang of the Shu Kingdom and the Huiling Mausoleum. It is the only temple in China that jointly enshrines a sovereign and his subject, and the historical site related to the Three Kingdoms Period that has the most far-reaching influence as well. In 1961 it was officially decreed as the National Cultural Relic Protection Unit by the Chinese government. The Temple of Marquis Wu has also suffered from damage of the earthquake at several spots, and some sculptures and pottery figurines have been damaged as well.
Temple of Marquis Wu in Chengdu
- Du Fu Thatched Cottage in Chengdu was built from the old residential site of Du Fu, the great realist poet of Chinas Tang Dynasty. Starting from the Five Dynasties, the cottage was renovated and expanded generation after generation, gradually evolving into a renowned cultural holy site integrating the layout of a memorial temple with the old residential style of the poet. The garden-style architecture, simplistic and elegant, has been listed among the first batch of national cultural relic protection units. In this earthquake, ten rooms of the Du Fu Thatched Cottage collapsed and two celadon vases of the Qing Dynasty were broken.
Du Fu Thatched Cottage
Severely-damaged Historical Sites
- The gate of the Longxi Yard - the former residence of Li Bai the great Tang poet; built in the Tang Dynasty.
- The Temple of Zhang Fei in Langzhong of Sichuan Province; first built in the late years of the Shu Kingdom.
- The 13-storeyed White Pagoda of the Ming Dynasty in Langzhong of Sichuan Province
We firmly believe that with the united efforts as well as the fortitudinous spirit of the Chinese nation, the spiritual and cultural homeland of the quake-hit area would surely be re-built.