New Delhi, May 23 - The Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage has stated this week that sixty-five cultural relics under state protection and 119 under provincial protection in Sichuan province have been severely damaged as a result of May 12 earthquake.
According to the administration's director, Shan Jixiang, expert teams will be sent to Sichuan to assess the damage and advise on the best course of action.
Shan visited Chengdu, the provincial capital, where he chaired a disaster relief conference on May 20.
According to the China Daily, the conference heard that many ancient buildings in Sichuan have collapsed or are on the brink of collapse. A total of 841 museum relics, 148 of which were regarded as precious, have been ruined.
The Erwang Temple and Mount Qingcheng in Dujiangyan, and the Bao'en Temple in Pingwu county were among the worst hit.
The Erwang Temple, which translates into "Temple of Two Kings", was built 2,000 years ago to honor Li Bing, the then governor of Sichuan, and his son for their contribution to the construction of Dujiangyan, the world's oldest irrigation project, which is still in operation. It collapsed in the quake.
At Mount Qingcheng, the birthplace of Taoism, China's only indigenous religion, several ancient buildings have been listed as being in danger of collapse, said Wang Qiong, the deputy chief of the Sichuan Bureau of Cultural Heritage.
Like the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, which was built around 256 B.C., Mount Qingcheng is on the United Nations' World Heritage List.
The Bao'en Temple, built by Pingwu Governor Wang Xi between 1440 A.D. and 1460 AD, is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Sichuan, measuring 278 m by 100 m.
The monastic complex was known for its glazed roof tiles, similar to those found in Beijing's Imperial City
To show his gratitude to the emperor for allowing him to build such a large temple, Wang Xi named it "Bao'en", which means, "paying a debt of gratitude".
Many of the temple's walls have collapsed and their frescos have been ruined, said Wang Qiong.
Despite Chengdu being 92 km from the epicenter, the roofs of some buildings at the city's Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum were broken and some walls have cracked.
The museum is dedicated to Du Fu, one of China's greatest poets, who wrote 240 poems while living in Chengdu.
Sichuan's cultural bureau has asked museums across the province to temporarily store their exhibits to ensure their safety, Wang Qiong said.