top of page



The Qiang area was the hardest hit area by the devastating earthquake in Sichuan which occurred at 2:28 pm on May 12, 2008, and measured 7.9 or 8 on the Richter scale. It struck in Sichuan Province, just north of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Dujiangyan, and killed around 87,000 people and injured more than 374,000. The quake destroyed or damaged more than 15 million homes, and left 5 million to 10 million homeless. displaced 1.5 million and caused more than $20 billion in damage.

Approximately 10 percent of the total population of Qiang in 1998 — about 306,000 people — died in the earthquake. Nearly 60 percent of the residents of earthquake-devastated Beichuan, the closest town to the epicenter, were Qiang. The quake leveled much of the city and killed about a third of its population. Situated in a narrow valley along a river bend, between towering Sichuan mountains, Beichuan was about 100 kilometers north of the quake’s epicenter and was severely shaken by the earthquake and buried by landslides. The earthquake leveled 80 percent of the buildings in the old town and 60 percent of the buildings in the new town. Around 8,600 of the town's 22,000 inhabitants, many of them Qiang, and More than 1,000 were killed in Beichuan Middle School alone.

Over the centuries, the Qiang had largely settled in northwest Sichuan after surviving repeated wars with both the neighboring Tibetans and the dominant Han Chinese. At the time, specialists on the group's culture feared the tragedy would obliterate the local language and traditions, already severely attenuated by the Cultural Revolution and decades of economic migration.

But instead, the decade since the earthquake has seen a resurgence of interest in Qiang culture, which gained national exposure as a result of the disaster. Most people think if it wasn't for the earthquake, Qiang's current situation would be even worse than now.

This project was shot after 3 years of the earthquake, and photos included large format and digital versions.

bottom of page