Decision : 40 COM 8B.19
Examination of nominations of cultural properties to the World Heritage List
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC/16/40.COM/8B and WHC/16/40.COM/INF.8B1,
- Inscribes Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, China, on the World Heritage List as a cultural landscape on the basis of criteria (iii) and (vi);
- Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Dating from around the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, 38 sites of rock art and their associated karst, riverine and tableland landscape depict ceremonies that have been interpreted as portraying the bronze drum culture once prevalent across southern China. Located on steep cliffs cut through the karst landscape by the meandering Zuojiang River and its tributary Mingjiang River, the pictographs were created by the Luoyue people illustrating their life and rituals.
Criterion (iii): The Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, with its special combination of landscape and rock art, vividly conveys the vigorous spiritual and social life of the Luoyue people who lived along the Zuojiang River from the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. It is now the only witness to the tradition.
Criterion (vi): The images of Zuojiang Huashan depicting drums and related elements are symbolic records directly associated with the bronze drum culture once widespread in the region. Today bronze drums are still respected as symbols of power in southern China.
The components of Zuojiang Huashan are relatively complete geographical spatial units, preserving the cliffs bearing the rock art, rivers forest and tablelands. The 38 rock art sites were selected as the best preserved pictographs representing all phases of development. The property contains all the elements necessary to convey the value of the cultural landscape and rock art and does not suffer from development or neglect.
Each site enclosed by mountains and rivers has preserved the rock art in its folds for over 2000 years. The location and setting of the rock art is authentic. The rock art is generally located high up on the cliffs, revered by the local inhabitants and although subject to weathering over time is authentic in terms of materials and substance. The motifs and figures of the rock art were related to the beliefs of the inhabitants of the area surrounding them. Today the painted mountains are revered by local people and rituals and sacrifices are performed to appease the invisible forces affecting their lives.
Protection and management requirements
One of the 38 rock art sites (Ningming Huashan) is protected at the National level in accordance with the National Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics. The other 37 are all protected at the Provincial level. The remainder of the property is protected by the provisions of Measures of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the Protection of Zuojiang Rock Art and the Measures of Chongzuo City on the Protection of Zuojiang Rock Art, together with other laws and regulations which protect the scenic areas, waterways and farmlands, as well as customary village regulations for the protection of rock art in their vicinity. The buffer zones are protected by the regulations of the Construction Control Zone pursuant to the National Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics. Soon all 38 rock art sites will be placed under National level protection.
Overall management of the property is the responsibility of the Chongzuo Management Centre in Chongzuo City, which oversees the management measures and systems of the subordinate district and county administrative departments under which the three property components fall.
The Master Plan for the Conservation and Management of Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape was approved and issued in January 2015 for implementation by the Chongzuo City People’s Government after consultation with expert committees and public participation. It prohibits all quarrying, sand mining, soil collecting, logging and road construction and controls all development within the property and buffer zone including in the villages, where it restricts the height of construction to 8 metres and area coverage to 150 square metres. It also controls the form, materials and colours of any new construction.
- Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
- completing the plan underway to put all 38 rock art sites under the highest protection level,
- preparing a conservation / consolidation programme for all the rock art sites with consequent follow-up monitoring systems,
- extending the management plan to include a risk preparedness strategy and addressing the risk of forest fire,
- restricting firewood collection from the forest as a means of protecting the environment of the rock art sites,
- considering solar heating and electric power instead of fossil fuel for the operation of boats and other facilities in the surrounding villages,
- restricting areas for farming to the present level;
- Encourages the State Party to ensure that other rock art sites not included in the World Heritage property are not subject to neglect;
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2017 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.