Monday, March 26, 2007

China's Cultural Revolution

I am watching on Discovery-Time their show Discovery Atlas: China Revealed.

One story that they use to illustrate Mao's Cultural Revolution is pretty telling. When Chairman Mao announced that all of the old culture must be destroyed, one of the things slated for extinction was the ancient Chinese art of bow-making. The bowmakers guild in Beijing was almost annihilated. They interview the only man who still makes bows using the old traditions. He was 8 years old when the Cultural Revolution was launched. His father broke one bow in two, wrapped it in oil paper, and hid it in the wood pile. If anyone had said there was a bow hidden, that whole family would have been executed. He said it was as if everyone had 'gone mad.' It would be another twenty years before he could convince his father to repair the one broken bow and to teach him the skills to make more. As for why he makes these bows, it is because he is keeping alive part of China's rich past.

During the ten years mainland China suffered the Cultural Revolution madness, between one to two million people were killed. The revolution only ended with Mao's death and the arrest of the Gang of Four.

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