Wednesday, April 15, 2009

From Māo To Máo

Probably the most offbeat site we have come across in all of China was an old house located down a small alleyway not far from the center of Chengdu. The story we heard, that led us to seek out this obscure place, goes something like this...

Wang Anting has spent much of his life collecting memorabilia having to do with Máo Zédōng. In a dream, he was apparently instructed by the Great Helmsman to share his collection (which supposedly includes 57,000 buttons) with the world.

The "museum" he created resembles the house of a pack rat who can never throw anything away. Every inch of floor, wall, and ceiling is covered with portraits of the Chairman, statues of the Chairman, and, yes, case after case filled with buttons of the Chairman. At one point, Z and I had to clamber over piles of wood and other debris to go check out pieces on the other side of the room. There was the young Mao, the old Mao, and all of the people who inspired and conspired with Mao, everyone from Marx to Stalin.

As for Wang Anting himself, he is somewhat up in years and is assisted by a younger guy who was all dressed up in full revolutionary era garb...And who was wearing a crucifix and was very happy to tell us about his Catholicism.

I told you it was offbeat...

~Steve

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