Unlike pop fans yelling at concerts or soccer fans asking stars
to sign names on their shirts, Wang Wenhai has chosen a unique way
to show his love and respect for the people he admires.
20 years, the 52-year-old staff member at the Yan'an Revolutionary
Museum in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province has been making clay
sculptures of the late Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the founder
of New China.
Wang said he has not counted exactly how many
sculptures of Chairman Mao he has made, but said: "I am sure that
the number is far more than 1,000, each with a different expression
"I have not sold any one of them. I do it only
because I love and admire him deeply."
Some of his best works
have been chosen as exhibits in the museum where he works, according
to Wang. His work is welcomed not only for the vivid portrayal of
Mao in appearance but also in spirit.
People often asked Wang
about the secret of his works. Wang replied with only one word:
Wang began to work as a guide at the Yan'an
Revolutionary Museum in 1970 after finishing secondary school.
Wang's main task at the time was to introduce Mao Zedong Thought
to the visitors.
He chanced upon sculpting when several
professors from the Xi'an Academy of Art came to draw pictures and
make sculptures to decorate the museum.
Curious and intrigued,
he volunteered to work as their assistant and model, during which he
learned the basic techniques of sculpture.
The soft and sticky
clay comes from the Loess Plateau where Yan'an, the base of the
Chinese revolution, is located. The clay, excellent natural material
for sculpting, has furnished a popular medium for the local people
to knead various objects, Wang said.
When he started to make his
own sculptures, the first image which rushed into his mind was Mao
Zedong, he said.
"Because of both the era and my work, Mao
Zedong became one of the familiar figures in my life."
deeper understanding of the late Chairman, Wang hung Mao pictures on
all the walls of his home and collected all the relevant books he
could find about Mao.
"He is a common but great person. I always
try to fuse this kind of feeling into my sculptures," Wang said.
In 1993, to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Mao
Zedong, Wang held an exhibition in the city, to show off about 1,300
sculptures he made. The exhibition echoed the feelings of the local
people towards the great leader at that time.
featured Mao at different ages in various poses - waving his hand,
sitting, lying, standing, reading books and making a speech, Wang
recalled with nostalgia.
Now a decade has passed. Wang's next
plan is to make a new series of sculptures that reflect the life of
Mao during the Long March (1934-35).
"These hard days should not
be forgotten even when our lives nowadays have improved so much," he