When the 2008 Great Sichuan Earthquake rocked central China, over 69,000 people were killed. Seven years later, photographer Chen Jie visited the post-earthquake sites, expecting to see heartbreaking scenes of villages still struggling to recover. In place of despondency however, Jie was surprised to find beauty in how nature had reclaimed the towns and captured the eerie yet beautiful landscapes in a series of photographs.
Although the 2008 Sichuan earthquake’s epicenter was located in Wenchuan County, the town of Beichuan was considered the worst hit, as it was repeatedly struck by strong aftershocks. Chen Jie choose two villages in Beichuan to visit: the first was Five Dragons, the town’s most remote village; and the second, Shi yi, a walled village that overlooks the old Beichuan’s county where earthquake ruins can be seen. Both villages are located at high elevations and boast picturesque scenery. Five Dragons village, for example, is perched between 1,000 to 4,000 meters above sea level and has preserved well the culture of the Qiang minority ethnic group.
The most surprising aspect of these villages is that many of the buildings were largely kept intact despite the earthquake. Over the course of seven years however, nature has reclaimed the land through thick blankets of fog and greenery. Jie described his short stay in each of the villages as a mystical experience in which time seems to stop and everything, including man, is returned to nature.
Images via iFeng