So is the body real or not – that is the question – a visit to Mao’s Mausoleum!!
(photo from http://www.gmw.cn)
The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall or the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong is the resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China and the founding father of the People’s Republic of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. 700,000 from all different provinces around China built the mausoleum and materials from all around China were used.
Located to the east of Tiananmen Square, north of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall rests on the site of former Gate of China (Zhonghuamen).
A few friends and I had wanted to visit the mausoleum since arriving in Beijing but it was never high on our list of ‘things to do’, so finally we decided to go, early one morning after two years in Beijing, and we arrived only to find that the mausoleum was closed for renovations. So we planned another visit…this time the mausoleum was open.
The line up for entry is long even at 7.30am. It seems it is a place that people want to come and want to pay their respects to the Chairman.
Upon entry you are searched and have walk through a metal detector. No bags are allowed inside the mausoleum and neither are cameras, video recorders or food and drink. The guards are ‘very’ strict at the entry and during your walk through. So my photos of inside the mausoleum are obtained from the internet.
The mausoleum stands alone in Tian’anmen, surrounded by 44 granite posts; with three halls inside. The first hall contains a large marble statue of Mao. Prior to entering this hall, you are able to buy flowers to place at the base of the marble statue; when we walked past there were thousands of flowers (all artificial; so someone is making a pile of money re-selling these flowers every day). We saw people placing the flowers, bowing in silence and returning to the line. Some of the older Chinese had tears. For a country that is never quiet, the silence in the hall was deafening.
(photo from http://www.parislike.com)
The backdrop of the hall is a mural painting “the vast homeland”, 23.74m wide and 6.6m tall. Passing into the next hall, we got to view the uniformed body of Mao who is lying in a crystal coffin. He is wearing his grey button up jacket and grey trousers and is covered with the party flag of Communist Party of China. He looks waxy and orange. We had discussions (in the car of course) as to whether it is the ‘real’ Mao! We are still unconvinced.
You can walk past slowly but you cannot stop. The security guards will poke you with their batons if you take your time…well they don’t do it to the foreigners but definitely did do it to the Chinese – it happened during our visit. I saw the Chinese bowing and paying their respects to Mao and moving on.
So after viewing the body, you enter the South Great Hall which is the exit of the Memorial Hall. The marble wall on the north was engraved with the gilded scripture “Manjianghong” [the whole river red] which is a set of Chinese lyrical poems written by Mao Zedong, although Mao was not the author of the poems.
Outside there are two huge sculptures; one is the sculpture for revolutionary struggle and the other is workers, peasants and soldiers.