There was a big turnout for Mao’s 120th birthday yesterday, maybe a little too big if the slightly nervous commentary from Boss Xi and Chinese state media is anything to go by. Anyway, China Daily went off to Xishuangbanna to see how China’s ever happy singing and dancing ethnic groups were marking the occasion:
Ai recalls that when he was a child, old people in the village told him that Chairman Mao was like the Monkey King in the traditional Chinese novel Journey to the West, who was invincible and was commissioned by Heaven to bring fairness and equality to the world.
Aint that nice. Elsewhere in the same piece.
...these villages are not isolated cases. A survey by the Horizon Research Consultancy Group in 2008 in 40 Chinese cities and towns, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, showed that 11.2 percent of respondents enshrine Mao Zedong at home, far more than those who worship Buddha, the God of Wealth and other gods.
A lot of this surely is down to his image being ubiquitous. Mao is enshrined at my home in the form of his picture on an cigarette lighter which plays The East is Red when you flip the top, to which I have already sacrificed several puppies....the slow way..
Anyway, a lot of the nervousness about Mao’s ascendance to godhead, inasmuch as its real, comes down to sheer incongruence. But this comes down to the vaguely Christian feeling that if God exists he must be Good, a smiling old Christian uber-beardie or a fat, chuckling Buddha. But perhaps Mao is envisioned more as one of those shambling Tibetan monstrosities with a wolf’s face, fire shooting out of every orifice and a necklace of random human body parts. Perhaps he isn’t so much worshipped as propitiated, something rather different. Something more like this, perhaps.