October 26, 2009

The Mausoleum of Mao

Mao Zedong was the first leader of the People's Republic of China and one of the most influential figures of modern times. He died in 1976 and construction of his mausoleum began soon after. I visited the final resting place of the Great Helmsman alongside thousands of Chinese peasants on a cold Beijing morning. The masses lined up outside his mausoleum, eager to pay respect to his waxlike remains. Visitors are asked to produce identification proof before they are allowed in to the viewing area. Many stopped to buy flowers before entering the tomb.

The queue moved surprisingly quickly and I did not have to wait long before coming face to face with the Chairman. Security guards ushered everyone through, allowing for only several seconds of Mao viewing time per comrade. No photographs are allowed inside the complex, so everyone bobbed from side to side trying to get as good a view as possible of the man who helped China become a major world power. As they exited, they had a chance to buy some Mao-morabilia before heading back to their homes across the nation.


"If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience."
- Mao Zedong -