Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zhang Xu

Zhang Xu may refer to:

* Cho U, known as Zhang Xu in pinyin, Taiwanese Go player currently resides in Japan
* Zhang Xu , Chinese calligrapher in Tang Dynasty

Yu Shinan

Yan Zhenqing was a leading Chinese calligrapher and a loyal governor of the Tang Dynasty. His artistic accomplishment in Chinese calligraphy parallels the greatest master calligraphers throughout the history, and his calligraphy style, ''Yan'', is the textbook-style that every calligraphy lover has to imitate today.


Early life

Yan Zhenqing was born in Linyi of Shandong Province to a reputed academic family which served the court for many generations. His great-great grandfather Yan Shigu was a famous linguist while his father Yan Weizhen was princes' private tutor and a great calligrapher himself. Under the influence of the family tradition and the strict instruction of his mother, Lady Yin , Yan Zhenqing worked hard since his childhood and was well-read in literature and Confucianism.

In 734, at the age of 22, Yan Zhenqing qualified from the national wide imperial examination and was granted the title of ''Jinshi'' . He then gained the rare opportunity of taking a special imperial examination that was set for candidates with extraordinary talents, again excelling in it. With outstanding academic background, Yan Zhengqing rose rapidly through the bureaucratic ladder: he was appointed vice-magistrate of Liquan District , then later Investigating Censor and Palace Censor . His uprightness and outspoken style were hailed by the common people, but angered Grand Councilor Yang Guozhong; as a result, in 753, he was sent out of the capital as the governor of Pingyuan.

Civil war

By the time Yan Zhenqing took up the post of governor of Pingyuan, the An Shi Rebellion was imminent. With his political sensitivity, Yan Zhenqing immediately started preparing for war by fortifying the city wall and stocking up provisions. He also sent emergency memorial to , but was ignored.

In December 755, An Lushan and Shi Siming rebelled under the name of removing Yang Guozhong. The ill-prepared Tang government troops retreated with little resistance from all the prefectures in Heshuo area ; only Yan Zhenqing’s Pingyuan sustained through. He then combined force with his cousin, Yan Gaoqing , who was the governor of , fighting the rebels at their rear. The government in its desperation, promoted Yan Zhenqing to Deputy Minister of Finance , and conferred him great military power to assist General Li Guangbi in the crackdown of the rebellion.

Thereafter Yans’ force won several major battles over the rebels, which include successfully cutting off their provision line and regaining control over seventeen commands in Heshuo area. In 756, ascended the throne and promoted Yan Zhenqing to Minister of Works . Due to poor military deployment by the Tang government, An Lushan managed to attack Hebei by surprise, and Yan Zhenqing reluctantly abandoned his command, returning to the court in 757. He was then appointed Minister of Law , but his outspokenness against corruptive higher-ranking officials resulted himself being constantly demoted and re-promoted.

Late life

In 764, conferred the title of Duke of Lu on Yan Zhenqing in recognition of his firm loyalty to the government and bravery during An Lushan Rebellion. However, his unbendable character was resented by the incumbent Grand Councilor, Lu Qi , and cost him his life.

In 784, the military commissioner of Huaixi , Li Xilie , rebelled. Lu Qi had held a grudge against Yan Zhenqing for a long time, so he sent Yan Zhenqing to negotiate with Li Xilie in the hope that Yan Zhenqing will be killed. As expected, Li Xilie tried all means to coax or threaten Yan Zhenqing to surrender, but Yan Zhenqing was never wavered. According to the legend, Li Xilie set up a fire in the courtyard and told Yan Zhengqing he would be burnt to death if not surrendering. Yet Yan Zhenqing did not show the slightest fear and walked towards the fire determinately. Li Xilie could not help but to show respect to him, and in 785, Yan Zhenqing was secretly strangled in Longxing Temple in Caizhou, Henan.

Upon hearing his death, Emperor Daizong closed the assembly for five days and conferred the posthumous title ''Wenzhong'' on Yan Zhenqing. He was also widely mourned by the army and the people, and a temple was constructed to commemorate him. In Song Dynasty, the temple was moved to Shandong and henceforward became a key tourist attraction.

Calligraphy achievement

Yan Zhenqing is popularly held as the only calligrapher who parallelled Wang Xizhi, the "Calligraphy Sage". He specialized in '''' Script and ''Cao'' Script, though he also mastered other writings well. His ''Yan'' style of ''Kai'' Script, which brought Chinese calligraphy to a new realm, emphasized on strength, boldness and grandness. Like most of the master calligraphers, Yan Zhenqing learnt his skill from various calligraphers, and the development of his personal style can be basically divided into three stages.

Early period

Most calligraphers agree Yan Zhenqing’s early stage lasted until his 50s. During these years, Yan Zhenqing tried out different techniques and started to develop his personal genre. When he was young, he studied calligraphy under the famous calligraphers and Chu Suiliang. Zhang Xu was skilled in ''Cao'' Script, which emphasizes the overall composition and flow; Chu Suiliang, on the other hand, was renowned for his graceful and refined ''Kai'' Script. Yan Zhenqing also drew inspiration from ''Wei Bei'' Style, which originated from Northern nomad minorities and focused on strength and simplicity.

In 752, he wrote one of his best-known pieces, ''Duobao Pagoda Stele'' . The stele has 34 lines, each containing 66 characters, and it was written for Emperor Xuanzong who was extremely pious to Buddhism at the moment. The style of the writing was close to that of the early Tang calligraphers, who emphasized elegance and "fancifulness"; yet it also pursues composure and firmness in the stroke of the brush, structuring characters on powerful frames with tender management on brushline.

Consolidating period

This period ranges from Yan Zhenqing’s fifties to sixty-five. During these years, he wrote some famous pieces like ''Guojia Miao Stele'' and ''Magu Shan Xiantan Ji'' . Having experienced An Lushan Rebellion and frequent vicissitudes in his civil career, Yan Zhenqing’s style was maturing. He increased the waist force while wielding the brush, and blended the techniques from '''' and '''' Scripts into his own style, making the start and ending of his brushline gentler. For individual stroke, he adopted the rule of “thin horizontal and thick vertical strokes”; strokes’ widths were varied to show the curvature and flow, and the dots and oblique strokes were finished with sharp edges. For character structure, Yan style displays squared shape and modest arrangement, with spacious center portion and tight outer strokes; this structure resembles more to the more dated ''Zhuan'' and ''Li'' Scripts. And for the allocation of the blank, characters are compact vertically, leaving relatively more space in between lines. Hence, the emerging ''Yan'' style had abandoned the sumptuous trend of early Tang calligraphers: it is rather upright, muscular, fitting, rich and controlled; than sloped, feminine, pretty, slim and capricious.

Consummating period

In the ten years’ before his death, Yan Zhenqing’s calligraphy accomplishment peaked. With established style, he continuously improved on each of his works, and completed his Magnum Opus, ''Yan Qingli Stele'' . At this stage, he was able to fully exhibit his style at his will even through a single stroke, and under his modest and stately style bubbles the liveness and passion.


Yan Zhenqing’s style assimilated the essence of the past five hundred years, and almost all the calligraphers after him were more or less influenced by him. In his contemporary period, another great master calligrapher, Liu Gongquan, studied under him, and the much-respected Five-Dynasty Period calligrapher, Yang Ningshi thoroughly inherited Yan Zhenqing’s style and made it bolder.

The trend of imitating Yan Zhenqing peaked during Song Dynasty. The "Four Grand Masters of Song Dynasty" – Su Shi, Huang Tingjian , Mi Fu , Cai Xiang – all studied ''Yan'' Style; Su Shi even claimed Yan Zhenqing’s calligraphy "peerless" throughout the history.

After Song, the popularity of Yan Zhenqing declined slightly, as calligraphers tended to try out more abstract way of expression. However, it still took a very important status, and many renowned calligraphers, such as Zhao Mengfu and Dong Qichang are said to be inspired by Yan Zhenqing.

In contemporary China, the leading calligraphers like Sha Menghai and Shen Yinmo conducted extended research on ''Yan'' style, and since then it regained its popularity. Nowadays almost every Chinese calligraphy learner imitates ''Yan'' style when he first picks up the brush, and Yan Zhenqing’s influence has also spread across oceans to Korea, Japan and South-east Asia.

Wei Shuo

Wei Shuo , courtesy name Mouyi , sobriquet He'nan , commonly addressed just as Lady Wei , was a calligrapher of Eastern Jin, who established consequential rules about the regular script. Her famous disciple was Wang Xizhi.

Born in modern , Wei was the daughter of Wei Zhan or the daughter or younger sister of Wei Heng . Wei was married to Li Ju , the Governor of Ding Prefecture. Wei and Li had Li Chong , also a calligrapher and a Palace Secretarial Attendant . She was a student of Zhong Yao. However, Wei's style is narrower than Zhong's wider style. Wei's ''The Picture of Ink Brush'' describes the Seven Powers that later became the famous Eight Principles of Yong.


Her other works include:
* ''Famous Concubine Inscription''
* ''The Inscription of Weishi He'nan''

Huai Su

Zhao Mengfu courtesy name Ziang , pseudonyms Songxue , Oubo , and Shuijing-gong Dao-ren , was a prince and descendant of the Song Dynasty, and a scholar, and calligrapher during the Yuan Dynasty.

He was married to Guan Daosheng, who was also an accomplished poet, painter and calligrapher. His rejection of the refined, gentle brushwork of his era in favour of the cruder style of the eighth century is considered to have brought about a revolution that created the modern Chinese landscape painting. He was known for his paintings of horses. His landscapes are also considered to be done in a style that focuses more on a literal laying of ground. Rather than organizing them in a foreground, middle ground, and background pattern he layers middle grounds at various heights to create a sense of depth. This pattern of organization makes his paintings appear very simple and approachable. It was this characteristic that so many people valued about his style.

Huang Ruheng

Zheng Xie , commonly known as Zheng Banqiao was a painter from Jiangsu. He began life in poverty, but rose in the exam system to become a magistrate at Shandong. However, after 12 years, he became critical of the life of an official because he reportedly was criticized for building a shelter for the poor, and so he resigned. After that, he expressed himself in art and became one of the Yangzhou. He was noted for his drawing of orchids, bamboo, and stones. In 1748 he briefly resumed an official career as "official calligrapher and painter" for the Qianlong emperor, but was fired in 1753 following a corruption charge.

He was also a calligrapher who created a new calligraphy style influenced by his orchid drawings. Added to this, he had an interest in literature and poetry. He preferred to write about ordinary people in a natural style.

Huang Tingjian

Huang Tingjian , is predominantly known as a calligrapher but was also admired for his painting and poetry. He was one of the Four masters of the Song Dynasty. Huang was a student of Su Shi at his school of literati painting.

Huang is generally regarded as the finest and most creative calligrapher of the Song Dynasty. His xingshu displays a sharpness and aggression which is instantly recognisable to the student of Chinese calligraphy.

Liu Gongquan

Kang Youwei
Chinese Name
PinyinKāng Yǒuwéi
Wade-GilesK'ang Yu-wei
Traditional Chinese康有為
Simplified Chinese康有为

*Gēngshēng or 更甡
*Xīqiáo Shānrén
*Tiānyóu Huàrén
''Notes:''?''K'ang Yu-wei: A Biography and a Symposium'' gives Guǎngxià 廣夏

Kang Youwei , was a scholar, noted and prominent political thinker and of the late Qing Dynasty. He led movements to establish a constitutional monarchy and was an ardent Chinese nationalist. His ideas inspired a reformation movement that was supported by the Guangxu Emperor but loathed by Empress Dowager Cixi. Although he continued to advocate for constitutional monarchy after the foundation of the Republic of China, Kang's political ideology was never put into practical application.

Early life

Kang Youwei was born on March 19, 1858 in , Guangdong province. According to his autobiography, his intellectual gifts were recognized as a child by his uncle. Therefore, from an early age he was sent by his family to study the Confucian classics in order to pass the . However, as a teenager he was dissatisfied by the scholastic system of his time, especially its emphasis on preparing for the exams, which are artificial literary exercises done during examinations. Studying for exams was an extraordinarily rigorous activity, so he engaged in Buddhist meditation as a form of relaxation, an unusual leisurely activity for a Chinese scholar of his time. It was during one of these meditations that he had a mystical vision which became the theme for his intellectual pursuits throughout his life. Believing that it was possible to read every book and "become a sage" he embarked on a quasi-messianic pursuit to save humanity.


Kang called for an end to property and the family in the interest of an idealized future Chinese nationalism, and cited Confucius as an example of a reformer and not as a reactionary, as many of his contemporaries did. He argued that the of the were to bolster his claims. Kang was a strong believer in constitutional monarchy and wanted to remodel the country after ; These ideas angered his colleagues in the scholarly class who regarded him as a .

Kang, along with his famed student, Liang Qichao, were important participants of a campaign to modernize China now known as the Hundred Days' Reform. The reform introduced radical change into the stale Chinese government, and angered conservatives who feared losing power due to the influence of the reformers. The conservative faction's most powerful member, , ended the reforms and ordered Kang through death by a thousand cuts. Kang fled to Japan, where with Liang he organized the Protect the Emperor Society, travelled throughout the promoting constitutional monarchy and competing with the revolutionary leader Revive China Society and Revolutionary Alliance for funds and followers.

After the Qing Dynasty fell and the Republic of China was established in 1912 under Sun Yat-sen, Kang remained an advocate of constitutional monarchy and with this aim launched a failed coup d'état in 1917. General and his queue-wearing soldiers occupied Beijing, declaring a restoration of Emperor Puyi on July 1. This incident was a major miscalculation. The nation was highly anti-monarchist. Kang became suspicious of Zhang's insincere constitutionalism and that he was merely using the restoration to become the power behind the throne. He abandoned his mission and fled to the American legation. On July 12, Duan Qirui easily occupied the city.

Kang's reputation serves as an important barometer for the political attitudes of his time. In the span of less than twenty years, he went from being regarded as an iconoclastic radical to an anachronistic pariah without significantly modifying his ideology.

''Da Tongshu''

The best-known and probably most controversial work of Kang Youwei was the ''Da Tongshu'' . The title of this book derives from the name of a utopian society imagined by Confucius, although it literally means "The Book of Great Unity." The ideas of this books appeared in his lecture notes from 1884, and encouraged by his students, he worked on this book for the next two decades, but it was not until his exile in India that he finished the first draft. The first two chapters of the book were published in Japan in the 1900s, however the book wasn't published in its entirety until 1935, about seven years after his death. In it Kang proposed a utopian future world that would be free of political boundaries, ruled by one central government, but under democratic rule. In his scheme, the world would be split into rectangular administrative districts which would be self-governing under a direct democracy, although oddly still loyal to a central world government.

His desire to end the traditional Chinese family structure defines him as an early advocate of womens' independence in China.
He reasoned that the institution of the family that had been practiced by society since the beginning of time was a great cause of strife. Kang hoped it would be effectively abolished. Replacing the family would be state-run institutions, such as womb-teaching institutions, nurseries and schools. Marriage would be replaced by one-year contracts between a woman and a man. Kang considered the contemporary form of marriage, in which a woman was trapped for a lifetime, to be too oppressive. Kang believed in equality between men and women and believed that there should be no social barrier barring women from doing whatever men can. From this point of view, Kang also advocated the idea that homosexuality should be permitted, as presumably there are no differences in love between men and women and between a man and a man.

Kang saw capitalism as an inherently evil system and believed that government should establish socialist institutions to overlook the welfare of each individual. At one point he even advocated that government should adopt the methods of "communism", although it is debated what Kang meant by this term. He was surely one of the first advocates of Western communism in China. In this spirit, in addition to establishing government nurseries and schools to replace the institution of the family, he also envisioned government-run retirement homes for the elderly. It is debated whether Kang's socialist ideas were inspired more by Western thought or traditional Confucian ideals. Lawrence G. Thompsom believes that his socialism was based on traditional Chinese ideals. His work is permeated with the Confucian ideal of ''ren'', or ''humanity''. However Thompson also noted a reference by Kang to Fourier. Thus some Chinese scholars believe that Kang's socialist ideals were influenced by Western intellectuals after his exile in 1898.

Notable in Kang's ''Da Tong Shu'' was his enthusiasm and belief in bettering humanity with technology. This was unusual for a Confucian scholar during his time. He believed that Western technological progress had a central role in saving humanity. While many scholars of his time continued to maintain the belief that Western technology should only be adopted to defend China against the West, he seemed to full-heartedly embrace the modern idea that technology is integral for advancing mankind. Before anything of modern scale had been built, he foresaw a global telegraphic and telephone network. He also believed that technology would reduce human labor to the point where each individual would only need to work 3 to 4 hours each day, a prediction that will be repeated by the most optimistic futurists later in the century.

When the book was first published it was received with mixed reactions. Due to Kang's support for the Guangxu Emperor, he is seen as a reactionary by many Chinese intellectuals. People of this camp believed that Kang's book was an elaborate joke, and that he was merely acting as an apologist for the emperor as to how utopian paradise could have developed if the Qing dynasty was not overthrown. Others believe that Kang was a bold and daring proto-Communist who advocated modern Western socialism and communism. Amongst those in the second school was Mao Zedong, who admired Kang Youwei and his socialist ideals in the ''Da Tongshu''. Modern Chinese scholars nowadays often take the view that Kang was an important advocate of Chinese socialism, and despite the controversy ''Da Tongshu'' still remains popular. A Beijing publisher included it on the list "One hundred Most Influential Books in Chinese History." In the end, judgements of this remarkable individual may have been products of time and of place, and the future of Kang Youwei may take a form unknown to any of them.


Kang was poisoned in the city of Qingdao, Shandong in 1927. He was 69.

Kang's daughter, Kang Tongbi was a student at Barnard College.

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong ; was a military and leader who led the Communist Party of China to victory against the Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War, and was the leader of the People’s Republic of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.

Regarded as one of the most important figures in modern world history, and named by Time Magazine as one of the people of the 20th century, Mao remains a controversial figure to this day, thirty two years after his death. He is generally held in high regard in mainland China where he is often portrayed as a great revolutionary and strategist who eventually defeated Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in the Chinese Civil War, and transformed the country into a major power through his policies. However, many of Mao's socio-political programs such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution are blamed by critics from both within and outside China for causing severe damage to the , , and of China, as well as a probable death toll in the tens of millions.

Although still officially venerated in China, his influence has been largely overshadowed by the political and of Deng Xiaoping and other leaders since his death. Mao is also recognized as a poet and calligrapher.

Early life in China

His good friend Chan Pak-Lam guided Mao in his youth. Wen Chi-mei, his mother, was a very devout Buddhist. Due to his family's relative wealth, his father was able to send him to school and later to Changsha for more advanced schooling.

During the 1911 Revolution, Mao enlisted as a soldier in a local regiment in Hunan which fought on the side of the revolutionaries. Once the Qing Dynasty had been effectively toppled, Mao left the army and returned to school.

After graduating from the First Provincial Normal School of Hunan in 1918, Mao traveled with Professor Yang Changji, his high school teacher and future father-in-law, to Beijing during the May Fourth Movement in 1919.

Professor Yang held a faculty position at Peking University. Because of Yang's recommendation, Mao worked as an assistant librarian at the University with Li Dazhao as curator. Mao registered as a part-time student at Beijing University and attended many lectures and seminars by famous intellectuals, such as Chen Duxiu, Hu Shi, Qian Xuantong, etc. During his stay in Beijing, he read as much as possible, and through his readings, he was introduced to Communist theories. He married Yang Kaihui, Professor Yang's daughter who was his fellow student, despite an existing marriage arranged by his father at home. Mao never acknowledged this marriage. In October 1930, the Guomindang captured Yang Kaihui with her son, Anying. The GMD imprisoned them both and Anying, then, was later sent to his relatives after the GMD killed his mother, Yang Kaihui. At this time , Mao was living with a co-worker, He Zizhen, a 17 year old girl from Yongxing, Jiangxi. Mao turned down an opportunity to study in France because he firmly believed that China's problems could be studied and resolved only within China. Unlike his contemporaries, Mao concentrated on studying the peasant majority of China's population.

On 23 July 1921, Mao, age 27, attended the first session of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai. Two years later, he was elected as one of the five commissars of the Central Committee of the Party during the third Congress session. Later that year , Mao returned to Hunan at the instruction of the CPC Central Committee and the Kuomintang Central Committee to organize the Hunan branch of the Kuomintang. In 1924, he was a delegate to the first National Conference of the Kuomintang, where he was elected an Alternate Executive of the Central Committee. In 1924, he became an Executive of the Shanghai branch of the Kuomintang, and Secretary of the Organization Department.

For a while, Mao remained in Shanghai, an important city that the CPC emphasized for the Revolution. However, the Party encountered major difficulties organizing labor union movements and building a relationship with its nationalist ally, the Kuomintang. The Party had become poor, and Mao was disillusioned with the revolution and moved back to Shaoshan. During his stay at home, Mao's interest in the revolution was rekindled after hearing of the 1925 uprisings in Shanghai and Guangzhou. His political ambitions returned, and he then went to Guangdong, the base of the Kuomintang, and took part in the preparations for the second session of the National Congress of Kuomintang. In October 1925, Mao became acting Propaganda Director of the Kuomintang.

Political ideas

Mao had a great interest in the political system, encouraged by his father. His two most famous essays, both from 1937, 'On Contradiction' and 'On Practice', are concerned with the practical strategies of a revolutionary movement and stress the importance of practical, grassroots knowledge, obtained through experience. Both essays reflect the guerrilla roots of Maoism in the need to build up support in the countryside against a Japanese occupying force and emphasise the need to win over 'hearts and minds' through 'education'. The essays, reproduced later as part of the 'Red Book, warn against the behaviour of the blindfolded man trying to catch sparrows, and the 'Imperial envoy' descending from his carriage to 'spout opinions'.

In addition to his limited formal education, Mao spent six months studying independently. Mao was first introduced to communism while working at Peking University, and in 1921 he co-founded the Communist Party of China He first encountered Marxism while he worked as a library assistant at Peking University.

Other important influences on Mao were the and, according to some scholars, the Chinese literary works: ''Outlaws of the Marsh'' and ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms''. Mao sought to subvert the alliance of imperialism and feudalism in China. He thought the to be both economically and politically vulnerable and thus that the revolution could not be steered by Nationalists.

Throughout the 1920s, Mao led several labour struggles based upon his studies of the propagation and organization of the contemporary labour movements. However, these struggles were successfully subdued by the government, and Mao fled from Changsha after he was labeled a ''radical activist''. He pondered these failures and finally realized that industrial workers were unable to lead the revolution because they made up only a small portion of China's population, and unarmed labour struggles could not resolve the problems of imperial and feudal suppression.

Mao began to depend on Chinese peasants who later became staunch supporters of his theory of violent revolution. This dependence on the rural rather than the urban proletariat to instigate violent revolution distinguished Mao from his predecessors and contemporaries. Mao himself was from a peasant family, and thus he cultivated his reputation among the farmers and peasants and introduced them to Marxism.

War and Revolution

In 1927, Mao conducted the famous Autumn Harvest Uprising in Changsha, Hunan, as commander-in-chief. Mao led an army, called the "Revolutionary Army of Workers and Peasants", which was defeated and scattered after fierce battles. Afterwards, the exhausted troops were forced to leave Hunan for Sanwan, Jiangxi, where Mao re-organized the scattered soldiers, rearranging the military division into smaller regiments. Mao also ordered that each company must have a party branch office with a commissar as its leader who would give political instructions based upon superior mandates. This military rearrangement in Sanwan, Jiangxi initiated the CPC's absolute control over its military force and has been considered to have the most fundamental and profound impact upon the Chinese revolution. Later, they moved to the Jinggang Mountains, Jiangxi.

In the Jinggang Mountains, Mao persuaded two local insurgent leaders to pledge their allegiance to him. There, Mao joined his army with that of Zhu De, creating the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army of China, Red Army in short. .

From 1931 to 1934, Mao helped establish the Soviet Republic of China and was elected Chairman of this small republic in the mountainous areas in Jiangxi. Here, Mao was married to He Zizhen. His previous wife, Yang Kaihui, had been arrested and executed in 1930, just three years after their departure.

In Jiangxi, Mao's authoritative domination, especially that of the military force, was challenged by the Jiangxi branch of the CPC and military officers. Mao's opponents, among whom the most prominent was Li Wenlin, the founder of the CPC's branch and Red Army in Jiangxi, were against Mao's land policies and proposals to reform the local party branch and army leadership. Mao reacted first by accusing the opponents of opportunism and kulakism and then set off a series of systematic suppressions of them. It is reported that horrible forms of torture and killing took place. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday claim that victims were subjected to a red-hot gun-rod being rammed into the anus, and that there were many cases of cutting open the stomach and scooping out the heart. The estimated number of the victims amounted to several thousands and could be as high as 186,000. Critics accuse Mao's authority in Jiangxi was secured and reassured through the revolutionary terrorism, or .

Mao, with the help of Zhu De, built a modest but effective army, undertook experiments in rural reform and government, and provided refuge for Communists fleeing the rightist purges in the cities. Mao's methods are normally referred to as Guerrilla warfare; but he himself made a distinction between guerrilla warfare and Mobile Warfare .

Mao's Guerrilla Warfare and Mobile Warfare was based upon the fact of the poor armament and military training of the red army which consisted mainly of impoverished peasants, who, however, were all encouraged by revolutionary passions and aspiring after a communist utopia.

Around 1930, there had been more than ten regions, usually entitled "soviet areas," under control of the CPC. The prosperity of "soviet areas" startled and worried Chiang Kai-shek, chairman of the Kuomintang government, who waged five waves of besieging campaigns against the "central soviet area." More than one million Kuomintang soldiers were involved in these five campaigns, four out of which were defeated by the red army led by Mao. By June 1932 , the Red Army had no less than 45,000 soldiers, with a further 200,000 local militia acting as a subsidiary force.

Under increasing pressures from the KMT encirclement campaigns, there was a struggle for power within the Communist leadership. Mao was removed from his important positions and replaced by individuals who appeared loyal to the orthodox line advocated by Moscow and represented within the CPC by a group known as the 28 Bolsheviks.

Chiang Kai-shek, who had earlier assumed nominal control of China due in part to the Northern Expedition, was determined to eliminate the Communists. By October 1934, he had them surrounded, prompting them to engage in the "Long March," a retreat from Jiangxi in the southeast to Shaanxi in the northwest of China. It was during this 9,600 kilometer , year-long journey that Mao emerged as the top Communist leader, aided by the Zunyi Conference and the defection of Zhou Enlai to Mao's side. At this Conference, Mao entered the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

According to the standard Chinese Communist Party line, from his base in Yan'an, Mao led the Communist resistance against the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War . However, Mao further consolidated power over the Communist Party in 1942 by launching the Zheng Feng, or "Rectification" campaign against rival CPC members such as Wang Ming, Wang Shiwei, and Ding Ling. Also while in Yan'an, Mao divorced He Zizhen and married the actress Lan Ping, who would become known as Jiang Qing.

in 1938, writing ''On Protracted War'' ]]

During the Sino-Japanese War, Mao Zedong's strategies were opposed by both Chiang Kai-shek and the United States. The US regarded Chiang as an important ally, able to help shorten the war by engaging the Japanese occupiers in China. Chiang, in contrast, sought to build the ROC army for the certain conflict with Mao's communist forces after the end of World War II. This fact was not understood well in the US, and precious lend-lease armaments continued to be allocated to the Kuomintang. In turn, Mao spent part of the war fighting the Kuomintang for control of certain parts of China. Both the Communists and Nationalists have been criticised for fighting amongst themselves rather than allying against the Japanese Imperial Army. However the Nationalists were better equipped and did most of the fighting against the Japanese army in China.

After the end of World War II, the U.S. continued to support Chiang Kai-shek, now openly against the Communist in the for control of China. The U.S. support was part of its view to contain and defeat world communism. Likewise, the Soviet Union gave quasi-covert support to Mao and gave large supplies of arms to the Communist Party of China, although newer Chinese records indicate the Soviet "supplies" were not as large as previously believed, and consistently fell short of the promised amount of aid.

On 21 January 1949, Kuomintang forces suffered massive losses against Mao's Red Army. In the early morning of 10 December 1949, Red Army troops laid siege to Chengdu, the last KMT-occupied city in mainland China, and Chiang Kai-shek evacuated from the mainland to Taiwan that same day.

Leadership of China

The People's Republic of China was established on 1 October 1949. It was the culmination of over two decades of civil and international war. From 1954 to 1959, Mao was the . During this period, Mao was called Chairman Mao or the Great Leader Chairman Mao . The Communist Party assumed control of all media in the country and used it to promote the image of Mao and the Party. The Nationalists under General Chiang Kai-Shek were vilified as were countries such as the United States of America and Japan. The Chinese people were exhorted to devote themselves to build and strengthen their country. In his speech declaring the foundation of the PRC, Mao announced: "The Chinese people have stood up!"

Mao took up residence in Zhongnanhai, a compound next to the Forbidden City in Beijing, and there he ordered the construction of an indoor swimming pool and other buildings. Mao often did his work either in bed or by the side of the pool, preferring not to wear formal clothes unless absolutely necessary, according to Dr. Li Zhisui, his personal physician.

Mao’s first political campaigns after founding the People’s Republic were land reform and the suppression of counter-revolutionaries, which centered on mass executions, often before organized crowds. These campaigns of mass targeted former KMT officials, businessmen, former employees of Western companies, intellectuals whose loyalty was suspect, and significant numbers of rural . The in 1976 estimated that there may have been a million killed in the land reform, 800,000 killed in the counterrevolutionary campaign. Mao himself claimed a total of 700,000 killed during the years 1949–53. However, because there was a policy to select "at least one landlord, and usually several, in virtually every village for public execution", 1 million deaths seems to be an absolute minimum, and many authors agree on a figure of between 2 million and 5 million dead. In addition, at least 1.5 million people were sent to camps. Mao’s personal role in ordering mass executions is undeniable. He defended these killings as necessary for the securing of power.

Following the consolidation of power, Mao launched the First Five-Year Plan . The plan aimed to end Chinese dependence upon agriculture in order to become a world power. With the USSR's assistance, new industrial plants were built and agricultural production eventually fell to a point where industry was beginning to produce enough capital that China no longer needed the USSR's support. The success of the First Five Year Plan was to encourage Mao to instigate the Second Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward, in 1958. Mao also launched a phase of rapid collectivization. The CPC introduced price controls as well as a aimed at increasing literacy. Land was taken from landlords and more wealthy peasants and given to poorer peasants. Large scale industrialization projects were also undertaken.

Programs pursued during this time include the Hundred Flowers Campaign, in which Mao indicated his supposed willingness to consider different opinions about how China should be governed. Given the freedom to express themselves, liberal and intellectual Chinese began opposing the Communist Party and questioning its leadership. This was initially tolerated and encouraged. After a few months, Mao's government reversed its policy and persecuted those, totalling perhaps 500,000, who criticized, and were merely alleged to have criticized, the Party in what is called the Anti-Rightist Movement. Authors such as Jung Chang have alleged that the Hundred Flowers Campaign was merely a ruse to root out "dangerous" thinking. Others such as Dr Li Zhisui have suggested that Mao had initially seen the policy as a way of weakening those within his party who opposed him, but was surprised by the extent of criticism and the fact that it began to be directed at his own leadership. It was only then that he used it as a method of identifying and subsequently persecuting those critical of his government. The Hundred Flowers movement led to the condemnation, silencing, and death of many citizens, also linked to Mao's Anti-Rightist Movement, with death tolls possibly in the millions.

Great Leap Forward

In January 1958, Mao launched the second Five-Year Plan known as the ''Great Leap Forward'', a plan intended as an alternative model for economic growth to the Soviet model focusing on heavy industry that was advocated by others in the party. Under this economic program, the relatively small agricultural collectives which had been formed to date were rapidly merged into far larger people's communes, and many of the peasants ordered to work on massive infrastructure projects and the small-scale production of iron and steel. All private food production was banned; livestock and farm implements were brought under collective ownership.

Under the Great Leap Forward, Mao and other party leaders ordered the implementation of a variety of unproven and unscientific new agricultural techniques by the new communes. Combined with the diversion of labor to steel production and infrastructure projects and the reduced personal incentives under a commune system this led to an approximately 15% drop in grain production in 1959 followed by further 10% reduction in 1960 and no recovery in 1961. In an effort to win favor with their superiors and avoid being purged, each layer in the party hierarchy exaggerated the amount of grain produced under them and based on the fabricated success, party cadres were ordered to requisition a disproportionately high amount of the true harvest for state use primarily in the cities and urban areas but also for export. The net result, which was compounded in some areas by drought and in others by floods, was that the rural peasants were not left enough to eat and many millions starved to death in what is thought to be the largest famine in human history. This famine was a direct cause of the death of tens of millions of Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. Further, many children who became emaciated and malnourished during years of hardship and struggle for survival, died shortly after the Great Leap Forward came to an end in 1962 .

The extent of Mao's knowledge as to the severity of the situation has been disputed. According to some, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware of anything more than a mild food and general supply shortage until late 1959.

:''"But I do not think that when he spoke on 2 July 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation"''

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, in ''Mao: the Unknown Story'', alleged that Mao knew of the vast suffering and that he was dismissive of it, blaming bad weather or other officials for the famine.

:''"Although slaughter was not his purpose with the Leap, he was more than ready for myriad deaths to result, and hinted to his top echelon that they should not be too shocked if they happened ."''

Whatever the case, the Great Leap Forward led to millions of deaths in China. Mao lost esteem among many of the top party cadres and was eventually forced to abandon the policy in 1962, also losing some political power to moderate leaders, notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. However, Mao and national propaganda claimed that he was only partly to blame. As a result, he was able to remain Chairman of the Communist Party, with the Presidency transferred to Liu Shaoqi.

The Great Leap Forward was a disaster for China. Although the steel quotas were officially reached, almost all of it made in the countryside was useless lumps of iron, as it had been made from assorted scrap metal in home made furnaces with no reliable source of fuel such as coal. According to Zhang Rongmei, a geometry teacher in rural Shanghai during the Great Leap Forward:

:''We took all the furniture, pots, and pans we had in our house, and all our neighbors did likewise. We put all everything in a big fire and melted down all the metal.''

Moreover, most of the dams, canals and other infrastructure projects, which millions of peasants and prisoners had been forced to toil on and in many cases die for, proved useless as they had been built without the input of trained engineers, whom Mao had rejected on ideological grounds.

In the Party Congress at Lushan in July/August 1959, several leaders expressed concern that the ''Great Leap Forward'' was not as successful as planned. The most direct of these was Minister of Defence and Korean War General Peng Dehuai. Mao, fearing loss of his position, orchestrated a purge of Peng and his supporters, stifling criticism of the Great Leap policies.

There is a great deal of controversy over the number of deaths by starvation during the Great Leap Forward. Until the mid 1980s, when official census figures were finally published by the Chinese Government, little was known about the scale of the disaster in the Chinese countryside, as the handful of Western observers allowed access during this time had been restricted to model villages where they were deceived into believing that Great Leap Forward had been a great success. There was also an assumption that the flow of individual reports of starvation that had been reaching the West, primarily through Hong Kong and Taiwan, must be localized or exaggerated as China was continuing to claim record harvests and was a net exporter of grain through the period. Censuses were carried out in China in 1953, 1964 and 1982. The first attempt to analyse this data in order to estimate the number of famine deaths was carried out by American demographer Dr Judith Banister and published in 1984. Given the lengthy gaps between the censuses and doubts over the reliability of the data, an accurate figure is difficult to ascertain. Nevertheless, Banister concluded that the official data implied that around 15 million excess deaths incurred in China during 1958-61 and that based on her modelling of Chinese demographics during the period and taking account of assumed underreporting during the famine years, the figure was around 30 million. The official statistic is 20 million deaths, as given by Hu Yaobang. The overwhelming majority of delegates expressed agreement, but Defense Minister Lin Biao staunchly defended Mao. When Mao was informed of such losses, particularly that people had been driven to suicide, he blithely commented: ''"People who try to commit suicide — don't attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people."''

It was during this period that Mao chose Lin Biao, who seemed to echo all of Mao's ideas, to become his successor. Mao and Lin Biao formed an alliance leading up to the Cultural Revolution in order for the purges to succeed. Mao needed Lin's clout for his plan to work. In return, Lin was made Mao's successor. By 1971, however, because of Lin's grip over the military and Mao's own paranoia, a divide between the two men became clear, and it was unclear whether Lin was planning a military coup or an assassination attempt. Lin Biao died trying to flee China, probably anticipating his arrest, in a suspicious plane crash over Mongolia. It was declared that Lin was planning to depose Mao, and he was posthumously expelled from the CPC. At this time, Mao lost trust in many of the top CPC figures. The highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa described his conversation with Nicolae Ceau?escu who told him about a plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organized by KGB.

In 1969, Mao declared the Cultural Revolution to be over, although the official history of the People's Republic of China marks the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 with Mao's death. In the last years of his life, Mao was faced with declining health due to either Parkinson's disease or, according to Li Zhisui, motor neurone disease, as well as lung ailments due to and . Mao remained passive as various factions within the Communist Party mobilized for the power struggle anticipated after his death.

Mao's Death

At five o'clock in the afternoon of 2 September 1976, Mao suffered a heart attack, far more severe than his previous two and affecting a much larger area of his heart. His body was giving out. The personal doctors group began emergency treatment immediately. X rays indicated that his lung infection had worsened, and his urine output dropped to less than 300 cc a day.
Mao was awake and alert throughout the crisis and asked several times whether he was in danger. His condition continued to fluctuate and his life hung in the balance. Three days later, on 5 September Mao's condition was still critical, and Hua Guofeng called Jiang Qing back from her trip. She spent only a few moments in Building 202 before returning to her own residence in the Spring Lotus Chamber. On the afternoon of 7 September, Mao took a turn for the worse. Jiang Qing came to Building 202 where she learned the bad news. Mao had just fallen asleep and needed the rest, but she insisted on rubbing his back and moving his limbs, and she sprinkled powder on his body. The medical team protested that the dust from the powder was not good for his lungs, but she instructed the nurses on duty to follow her example later. The next morning, 8 September, she came again. She wanted the medical staff to change Mao's sleeping position, claiming that he had been lying too long on his left side. The doctor on duty objected, knowing that he could breathe only on his left side, but she had him moved nonetheless. Mao's breathing stopped and his face turned blue. Jiang Qing left the room while the medical staff put him on a respirator and performed emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mao barely revived, and Hua Guofeng urged Jiang Qing not to interfere further with the doctor's work, as her actions were detrimental to Mao's death. Mao's organs were failing and he was taken off life support few minutes after midnight. September 9 was chosen because it was an easy day to remember. Mao had been in poor health for several years and had declined visibly for some months prior to his death. He was a chain smoker. His body lay in state at the Great Hall of the People. A memorial service was held in Tiananmen Square on 18 September 1976. There was a three minute silence observed during this service. His body was later placed into the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, although he wished to be cremated and had been one of the first high-ranking officials to sign the "Proposal that all Central Leaders be Cremated after Death" in November 1956.

Cult of Mao

Mao's figure is largely symbolic both in China and in the global communist movement as a whole. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao's already glorified image manifested into a personality cult that stretched into every part of Chinese life. Mao presented himself as an enemy of landowners, businessmen, and Western and American imperialism, as well as an ally of impoverished peasants, farmers and workers.

At the 1958 Party congress in Chengdu, Mao expressed support for the idea of personality cults if they venerated figures who were genuinely worthy of adulation:

In 1962, Mao proposed the Socialist Education Movement in an attempt to educate the peasants to resist the temptations of feudalism and the sprouts of capitalism that he saw re-emerging in the countryside . Large quantities of politicized art were produced and circulated — with Mao at the centre. Numerous posters and musical compositions referred to Mao as "A red sun in the centre of our hearts" and a "Savior of the people" .

The Cult of Mao proved vital in starting the Cultural Revolution. China's youth had mostly been brought up during the Communist era, and they had been told to love Mao. Thus they were his greatest supporters. Their feelings for him were so strong that many followed his urge to challenge all established authority.

In October 1966, Mao's ''Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung'', which was known as the ''Little Red Book'' was published. Party members were encouraged to carry a copy with them and possession was almost mandatory as a criterion for membership. Over the years, Mao's image became displayed almost everywhere, present in homes, offices and shops. His quotations were by putting them in boldface or red type in even the most obscure writings. Music from the period emphasized Mao's stature, as did children's rhymes. The phrase ''Long Live Chairman Mao for ten thousand years'' was commonly heard during the era, which was traditionally a phrase reserved for the reigning .

After the Cultural Revolution, there are some people who still worship Mao in family altars or even temples for Mao.


As anticipated after Mao’s death, there was a power struggle for control of China. On one side was the left wing led by the , who wanted to continue the policy of revolutionary mass mobilization. On the other side was the right wing opposing these policies. Among the latter group, the restorationists, led by Chairman Hua Guofeng, advocated a return to central planning along the Soviet model, whereas the reformers, led by Deng Xiaoping, wanted to overhaul the Chinese economy based on market-oriented policies and to de-emphasize the role of Maoist ideology in determining economic and political policy. Eventually, the reformers won control of the government. Deng Xiaoping, with clear seniority over Hua Guofeng, defeated Hua in a bloodless power struggle a few years later.

Mao's legacy has produced a large amount of controversy. Many historians and academics are critical of Mao, especially his many campaigns to suppress political enemies and gain international renown, some comparing him to and .

Supporters of Mao credit him with advancing the social and economic development of Chinese society. They point out that before 1949, for instance, the in Mainland China was 80%, and life expectancy was a meager 35 years. At his death, illiteracy had declined to less than seven percent, and average life expectancy had increased to more than 70 years . In addition to these increases, the total population of China increased 57% to 700 million, from the constant 400 million mark during the span between the Opium War and the Chinese Civil War. Supporters also state that, under Mao's government, China ended its "Century of Humiliation" from Western and Japanese imperialism and regained its status as a major world power. They also state their belief that Mao also industrialized China to a considerable extent and ensured China's sovereignty during his rule. Many, including some of Mao's supporters, view the Kuomintang, which Mao drove off the mainland, as having been corrupt.

They also argue that the Maoist era improved women's rights by abolishing prostitution, a phenomenon that was to return after Deng Xiaoping and post-Maoist CPC leaders increased liberalization of the economy. Indeed, Mao once famously remarked that "Women hold up half the heavens". A popular slogan during the Cultural Revolution was, "Break the chains, unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution!"

Skeptics observe that similar gains in literacy and life expectancy occurred after 1949 on the small neighboring island of , which was ruled by Mao's opponents, namely Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang, even though they themselves perpetrated substantial repression in their own right. The government that continued to rule Taiwan was composed of the same people ruling the Mainland for over 20 years when life expectancy was so low, yet life expectancy there also increased. A counterpoint, however, is that the United States helped Taiwan with aid, along with Japan and other countries, until the early 1960s when Taiwan asked that the aid cease. The mainland was under economic sanctions from the same countries for many years. The mainland also broke with the USSR after disputes, which had been aiding it.

Another comparison has been between India and China. Noam Chomsky commented on a study by the Indian economist Amartya Sen.

:''He observes that India and China had "similarities that were quite striking" when development planning began 50 years ago, including death rates. "But there is little doubt that as far as morbidity, mortality and longevity are concerned, China has a large and decisive lead over India" . In both cases, the outcomes have to do with the "ideological predispositions" of the political systems: for China, relatively equitable distribution of medical resources, including rural health services and public distribution of food, all lacking in India.''

The United States placed a trade embargo on China as a result of its involvement in the Korean War, lasting until Richard Nixon decided that developing relations with China would be useful in also dealing with the Soviet Union.

Mao's military writings continue to have a large amount of influence both among those who seek to create an insurgency and those who seek to crush one, especially in manners of guerrilla warfare, at which Mao is popularly regarded as a genius. As an example, the Communist Party of Nepal followed Mao's examples of guerrilla warfare.

The ideology of Maoism has influenced many communists around the world, including Third World revolutionary movements such as Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, The Communist Party of Peru, and the in Nepal. The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA also claims Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as its ideology, as do other Communist Parties around the world which are part of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. China itself has moved sharply away from Maoism since Mao's death, and most people outside of China who describe themselves as Maoist regard the Deng Xiaoping reforms to be a betrayal of Maoism, in line with Mao's view of "Capitalist roaders" within the Communist Party.

As the Chinese government instituted free market economic reforms starting in the late 1970s and as later Chinese leaders took power, less recognition was given to the status of Mao. This accompanied a decline in state recognition of Mao in later years in contrast to previous years when the state organized numerous events and seminars commemorating Mao's 100th birthday. Nevertheless, the Chinese government has never officially repudiated the tactics of Mao.

In the mid-1990s, Mao Zedong's picture began to appear on all new renminbi currency from the People’s Republic of China. This was officially instituted as an anti-counterfeiting measure as Mao's face is widely recognized in contrast to the generic figures that appear in older currency. On 13 March 2006, a story in the People's Daily reported that a proposal had been made to print the portraits of Sun Yat-sen and Deng Xiaoping.

In 2006, the government in Shanghai issued a new set of high school history textbooks which omit Mao, with the exception of a single mention in a section on etiquette. Students in Shanghai now only learn about Mao in junior high school.

Mao lived in the government complex in Zhongnanhai, Beijing.


Mao Zedong had several wives which contributed to a large family. These were:
# Luo Yixiu of Shaoshan: married 1907 to 1910
# Yang Kaihui of Changsha: married 1921 to 1927, executed by the in 1930
# He Zizhen of Jiangxi: married May 1928 to 1939
# Jiang Qing: , married 1939 to Mao's death

His ancestors were:
* Wen Qimei , mother. She was illiterate and a devout Buddhist.
* Mao Yichang , father, courtesy name Mao Shunsheng or also known as Mao Jen-sheng
* Mao Enpu , paternal grandfather

He had several siblings:
* Mao Zemin , younger brother
* Mao Zetan , younger brother
* Mao Zehong, sister

:Mao Zedong's parents altogether had six sons and two daughters. Two of the sons and both daughters died young, leaving the three brothers Mao Zedong, Mao Zemin, and Mao Zetan. Like all three of Mao Zedong's wives, Mao Zemin and Mao Zetan were communists. Like Yang Kaihui, both Zemin and Zetan were killed in warfare during Mao Zedong's lifetime.
Note that the character ''ze'' appears in all of the siblings' given names. This is a common Chinese naming convention.

From the next generation, Zemin's son, Mao Yuanxin, was raised by Mao Zedong's family. He became Mao Zedong's liaison with the Politburo in 1975. Sources like Li Zhisui say that he played a role in the final power-struggles.

Mao Zedong had several children:
* Mao Anying : son to Yang, married to Liu Siqi , who was born Liu Songlin , killed in action during the Korean War
* Mao Anqing : son to Yang, married to Shao Hua , son Mao Xinyu , grandson Mao Dongdong .
* Li Min : daughter to He, married to Kong Linghua , son Kong Ji'ning , daughter Kong Dongmei
* : daughter to Jiang , married to Wang Jingqing , son Wang Xiaozhi

Sources suggest that Mao did have other children during his revolutionary days; in most of these cases the children were left with peasant families because it was difficult to take care of the children while focusing on revolution. Two English researchers who retraced the entire Long March route in 2002-2003 located a woman who they believe might well be a missing child abandoned by Mao to peasants in 1935. Ed Jocelyn and Andrew McEwen hope a member of the Mao family will respond to requests for a DNA test.

Writings and calligraphy

Mao was a prolific writer of political and philosophical literature. Mao is the attributed author of ''Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung'', known in the West as the "Little Red Book" and in Cultural-revolution China as the "Red Treasure Book" : this is a collection of short extracts from his speeches and articles, edited by Lin Biao and ordered topically. Mao wrote several other philosophical treatises, both before and after he assumed power. These include:
* ''On Practice'' ; 1937
* ''On Contradiction'' ; 1937
* ''On Protracted War'' ; 1938
* '''' ; 1939
* ''On New Democracy'' ; 1940
* ''Talks at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art'' ; 1942
* ''Serve the People'' ; 1944
* ''On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions Among the People'' ; 1957
* ''The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains'' ; 1957

Mao was also a skilled calligrapher with a highly personal style. In China, Mao was considered a master calligrapher during his lifetime. His can be seen today throughout mainland China. His work gave rise to a new form of Chinese calligraphy called "Mao-style" or ''Maoti'', which has gained increasing popularity since his death. There currently exist various competitions specializing in Mao-style calligraphy.

Literary figure

Politics aside, Mao is considered one of modern China's most influential literary figures, and was an avid poet, mainly in the classical '''' and '''' forms. His poems are all in the traditional Chinese verse style.

As did most Chinese intellectuals of his generation, Mao received rigorous education in Chinese classical literature. His style was deeply influenced by the great Tang Dynasty poets Li Bai and Li He. He is considered to be a poet, in contrast to the poets represented by Du Fu.

Many of Mao's poems are still popular in China and a few are taught as a mandatory part of the elementary school curriculum. Some of his most well-known poems are: '''' , ''The Double Ninth'' , ''Loushan Pass'' , ''The Long March'' , ''Snow'' , ''The PLA Captures Nanjing'' , ''Reply to Li Shuyi'' , and ''Ode to the Plum Blossom'' .

Figure in popular culture

The face of Mao Zedong, arguably still one of the most recognizable in the modern world, continues to appear on t-shirts and other merchandise. The Beatles song has a reference to Mao with the lines, ''"but if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao/You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow"''. Mao is also featured in the Little Feat song ''Apolitical Blues''. In a Simpsons episode when the family goes to China, Homer visits Mao's mausoleum and talks to Mao's embalmed body.

Ouyang Xun

Ouyang Xun , courtesy name Xinben , was a Confucian scholar and calligrapher of the early Tang Dynasty. He was born in , to a family of government officials; and died in modern Anhui province.


He was a talented student who read widely in the classics. He served under the Sui Dynasty in 611 as Imperial Doctor. He served under the Tang Dynasty as censor and scholar at the Hongwen Academy. There he taught calligraphy. He was a principal contributor to the ''Yiwen Leiju''.

He became the Imperial Calligrapher and inscribed several major imperial steles.
He was considered a cultured scholar and a government official.
Along with Yu Shinan and Chu Suiliang became known as one of the Three Great Calligraphers of the Early Tang.


''Qigong'' refers to a wide variety of traditional “cultivation” practices that involve methods of accumulating, circulating, and working with Qi or energy within the body. Qigong is sometimes mistakenly said to always involve movement and/or regulated breathing; in fact, use of special methods of focusing on particular energy centers in and around the body are common in the 'higher level' or evolved forms of Qigong. Qigong is practised for health maintenance purposes, as a therapeutic intervention, as a medical profession, a spiritual path and/or component of Chinese martial arts.

The 'qi' in 'qigong' means breath or air in , and, by extension, 'life force', 'dynamic energy' or even 'cosmic breath'. 'Gong' means work applied to a discipline or the resultant level of skill, so 'qigong' is thus 'breath work' or 'energy work'. The term was coined in the twentieth-century and its currency, Ownby suggests, speaks of a cultural desire to separate 'cultivation' from 'superstition', to secularize and preserve valuable aspects of traditional Chinese practices.

Attitudes toward the scientific basis for qigong vary markedly. Most Western medical practitioners and many practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as the Chinese government, view qigong as a set of breathing and movement exercises, with possible benefits to health through stress reduction and exercise. Others see qigong in more metaphysical terms, claiming that cosmic qi can be drawn into the body and circulated through .

The rise of qigong

Although the roots of QiGong can be traced back millenia, Montreal scholar David Ownby understands qigong as a development of post- China, contending that with the end of the Cultural Revolution came an implicit admission in China that was useless, and that the 'totalitarian state' wherein the party leader was 'god' was all but defunct. A spiritual crisis thus ensued. Because the 'big religions' were desecrated and banned during the Cultural Revolution, to many Chinese they no longer held the attraction they once did. Qigong is said to have evolved within this historical context, as a “spiritual, slightly mystical branch of Chinese medicine.” Ownby gives a similar account of the history of qigong in China. Qigong was promoted in post-Mao China for both practical and ideological reasons, and in this period it took on "unprecedented importance." Qigong was not considered religious either by the authorities or by qigong practitioners, which immensely helped its growth. Eventually the state-administered China Qigong Scientific Research Association was formed, supposed to register qigong groups and conduct 'scientific' research. By the time the association was established, there were already 2000 qigong organisations and between 60 and 200 million practitioners across China.

Qigong quickly became a social phenomenon of 'considerable importance'; the topic was also explored by novelists and journalists, and qigong newspapers and magazines appeared in abundance to cater for the public's interest in the subject. The original small-group, master-disciple pattern was transformed into a mass experience, with qigong 'masters' organising 'mass rallies' to demonstrate to paying customers a range of qigong specific phenomena such as trance, possession, and a variety of otherworldly states. Qigong was practised widely in public parks and on university campuses. Demographics included both the 'old and suffering' as well as the 'young and curious'. Ownby suggests that the profile of qigong practitioners during this period fit that of the Chinese population in general, “men and women, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, powerful and powerless, urban and rural, Party and non-Party.”

Johnson writes that the early 1990s saw a 'qigong craze', with qigong being a widely accepted part of society. Qigong was able to adapt itself to a scientific discourse, which allowed it to survive the suspicions of the atheist state. It was heralded as a form of physical therapy, to be supervised by doctors. Experiments were conducted which purported to show that qigong could cure chronic health problems. Claims that qigong could have some role in developing latent 'supernatural powers' also emerged, such as the ability to levitate, heal illness, telekinesis through emissions of qi, the ability to 'read via the ear', and a “host of other remarkable talents, many of which would fall under our category of extrasensory perception.” Ownby suspects that qigong's ostensible autonomy from the state is in fact partly what contributed to its great popularity. Johnson writes that the 1990s saw an 'uneasy standoff'; the 'Three Nos' policy was adopted: No Promoting, No Criticizing, No Debating.

Ownby comments that the emergence of qigong coincided at a historic moment where technology and means of communication—such as books, tapes, television and Internet—were greatly advanced, allowing such groups to become aware of their size and geographical reach. Ownby suggests that this is a paradoxical situation of a deeply rooted Chinese tradition now adapting to a modern setting.


Today millions of people in China and around the world regularly practice qigong as a health maintenance exercise. Qigong and related disciplines are still associated with the martial arts and meditation routines practiced by Taoist and Buddhist monks, professional martial artists, and their students. Once more closely guarded, in the modern era such practices have become widely available to the general public both in China and around the world.

Medical qigong treatment has been officially recognized as a standard medical technique in Chinese hospitals since 1989. It has been included in the curriculum of major universities in China. After years of debate, the Chinese government decided to officially manage qigong through government regulation in 1996 and has also listed qigong as part of their National Health Plan.

Qigong can help practitioners to learn diaphragmatic breathing, an important component of the relaxation response, which is important in combating stress. In contrast, Taoist qigong employs the inverse breath of inhaling to the back of the thoracic cavity rather than diaphragmatic breathing. Improper use of diaphragmatic breathing can lead to reproductive pathologies for women.

Yan Xin , a doctor of both Western and Chinese medicine as well as founder of the relatively popular Yan Xin Qigong school, suggests that in order for qigong to be accepted by the modern world it must pass the test of scientific study. Without such studies, Yan maintains, qigong will be dismissed as "superstition" . In the mid-1980s he and others began systematic study of qigong in some research institutions in China and the United States. More than 20 papers

have been published.

Qigong is also seen as a socially conducive warm up to the day. There is concern over some overly spiritual aspects of qigong. Many practitioners choose the early morning to practice qigong and find it an easy way to stretch and warm up the metabolism whilst connecting with others in their neighbourhood.


Qigong, and its intimate relation the Chinese martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine, are often associated with spirituality. This link is much stronger than with other techniques in traditional Chinese medicine. Qigong was historically practiced in Taoist and Buddhist monasteries as an aid to concentration as well as martial arts training, and the health benefits of martial qigong practice have recently been confirmed in western medical studies. In addition, the traditional teaching methods of most qigong schools descend from the strict teacher-disciple relationship conventions inherited in Chinese culture from Confucianism.

In some styles of qigong, it is taught that humanity and nature are inseparable, and any belief otherwise is held to be an artificial discrimination based on a limited, two-dimensional view of human life. According to this philosophy, access to higher energy states and the subsequent health benefits said to be provided by these higher states is possible through the principle of cultivating ''virtue'' . Cultivating virtue could be described as a process by which one comes to realize that one was never separated from the primal, undifferentiated state of being free of artificial discrimination that is the true nature of the universe. Progress toward this goal can be made with the aid of deep relaxation , and deep relaxation is facilitated by the practice of qigong.

The debate between what can be called "" and "" schools of ''qigong'' theory has produced a considerable literature. Scholar Xu Jian analysed the intellectual debate, which involved both scientific research on ''qigong'' and the prevailing revival of nationalistic traditional beliefs and values.

Taking 'discourse' in its contemporary sense as referring to forms of representation that generate specific cultural and historical fields of meaning, we can describe one such discourse as rational and scientific and the other as psychosomatic and . Each strives to establish its own order of power and knowledge, its own 'truth' about the 'reality' of ''qigong'', although they differ drastically in their explanation of many of its phenomena.

At the center of the debate is whether and how ''qigong'' can bring forth abilities” .

The psychosomatic discourse emphasizes the inexplicable power of ''qigong'' and relishes its occult workings, whereas the rational discourse strives to demystify many of its phenomena and to situate it strictly in the knowledge of modern science."

Theories about the cultivation of , "placement of the mysterious pass" , among others, are also found in ancient Chinese texts such as ''The Book of Elixir'' , the Daoist Canon and ''Guide to Nature and Longevity'' .

Criticisms of qigong

Much of the criticism of qigong involves its claimed method of operation. Both traditional Chinese and Western medicine practitioners have little argument with the notion that qigong can improve and in many cases maintain health by encouraging , increasing range of motion, and improving joint flexibility and resilience. When it is asserted that qigong derives its benefits from qi acting as a kind of "biological plasma" that cannot be detected by current scientific instruments, many biologists and physicists react skeptically and declare qi as a pseudoscientific and vitalism concept, though others consider it as a philosophy rather than a physical force .

Association of qigong with practices involving spirit possession have added to establishment criticism. Some experts in China have warned against practices involving the claimed evocation of demons, and practices involving the worship of gods during qigong practice.

Many proponents of qigong claim they can directly detect and manipulate ''qi'', being a western example. Others, including some traditional Chinese practitioners, believe that ''qi'' can be viewed as a metaphor for certain biological processes, and the effectiveness of qigong can also be explained in terms of concepts more familiar to Western medicine such as stress management or neurology.

Controversies within qigong

In the 1980s and 1990s, the increasing popularity of qigong and related practices led to the establishment of many groups and methods in China and elsewhere that have been viewed in a critical light by more traditional qigong practitioners as well as by skeptical outside observers. In their view, a large number of people started studying qigong under inadequate supervision, indeed, perhaps the majority of people today who study qigong work from books or video tapes and DVDs without supervision by a teacher. This laxness can lead to several problems, according to those who view themselves as representative of orthodox schools. Most traditional training takes many years of practice under the supervision of someone who has also learned over years, someone who can guide and prevent the student from taking an unbalanced approach to qigong practice. The orthodox practitioners warn that improperly supervised practice can cause unbalanced circulation of inner energies that can eventually lead to unbalanced effects on the various systems of the body, both mental and physical.

Stories of unguided practitioners or inexpertly guided students developing chronic mental and physical health problems as a result of such training are not uncommon. The term "Qi Gong-Induced Psychosis" was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, of the American Psychiatric Association in the late 1990s, and is described as a culturally bound disorder with painful psychosomatic symptoms. Dr. Arthur Kleinman and Dr. Sing Lee from Harvard Medical School, researchers on various psychiatric topics in China, suggest that in international psychiatry this illness would be recognized as “…a specific type of brief reactive psychosis or as the precipitation of an underlying mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder.”

Lee and Kleinman both claim to have had experience with patients suffering from the condition. "Many kinds of qigong share certain similarities, such as the attainment of a trance state, patterned bodily posture or movement…, the practice of which could induce mental illnesses in some of its practitioners."

Qigong and the People's Republic of China

While some historians have suggested that in the early days of rule by the People's Republic of China there was a drive to promote the Traditional Chinese Medicine aspects of qigong to a quasi-religious status , the PRC has most recently attempted to reposition the definition of qigong to a traditional Chinese sport involving "deep breathing exercises" rather than anything to do with qi as energy. Xinhua News Agency articles have also attempted to explain the healing 'qi emissions' of qigong masters as a type of hypnotherapy or placebo effect. This attitude to qigong may be related to Falun Gong and Zhong Gong, which practice their own form of qigong which they claim to be for spiritual development. In the process of cracking down on the practice, The PRC government created a set of rules for qigong groups practicing in the country.

Health Qigong

In 2001 the Chinese Government showed great interest in regulating the Qigong movement. The State Sport General Administration of China founded the Chinese Health Qigong Association, as a mass-organization to popularize, spread and research Health Qigong in cooperation with the Peking Sport University. In 2003 the organization presented the newly developed four Health Qigong Exercises on the base of excellent traditional Qigong, including

* Yì Jīn Jīng ,
* Wu Qin Xi ,
* Liu Zi Jue ,
* ,

to fit the people's needs of promoting their health and body, and to develop traditional Chinese national culture further. The Chinese Health Qigong Association is a member of the All-China Sports Federation.

During the process of developing the exercises, strictly scientific research methods have been followed. Primary experiments took place under supervision of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Modern Medicine, Psychology, Athletic Science and other related subjects. The Four Health Qigong Exercises can be seen as the essences from the related Qigong in various schools, inherited and developed traditional Chinese national culture.

The new Health Qigong represented by the Chinese Health QiGong Association is breaking with the old tradition of family-styles and close teacher-student relation. It is hoped that the new standardisation is supporting the international spread of Qigong in the western hemisphere.

Starting in September 2004 the "Health Qigong Magazine" became the association magazine of the CHQA. It is the only national health qigong publication in China; edtited through China Sports Press.

After the successful 1st International Health Qigong Demonstration and Exchange in 2005 the CHQA organized in August 2007 the 2nd International Health Qigong Demonstration and Exchange in Peking including an international competition and the first Duan examination on Health Qigong.

At the same time there was organized the 2007 International Symposium on Health Qigong Science where all important scientific studies have been made available to the public.

Su Shi

Shi Kefa , born in , was a general and calligrapher, who in the last days of the Ming Dynasty gave his life resisting the advancing armies. The victorious Qing subsequently raised a memorial to him in recognition of his courage.


Shi was born in Kaifeng, Henan in 1601. When he was 44 years old, Shi was put in charge of the doomed city of Yangzhou. At the time, the Ming was already beginning to collapse and the Ming soldiers had lost their will to fight. However, Shi was still able to convince his men that a defense of the city was possible.

The Qing armies under Prince Dodo tried to lay siege to the walls of Yangzhou repeatedly, but with little success. Shi had trained his men to use European firearms , and dealt heavy blows on the them. It was said that the casualties were so high that the corpses of the fallen Manchu army reached the height of the city's wall. In fact, this was supposedly how the Manchus finally breached the wall of the city, by climbing over the dead corpses of their comrades. As the Manchus scaled the city wall, the weakened Ming troops, low on morale, made no effort to fight or run. Shi, much saddened by the weakness of his countrymen, ordered his officers to behead him. However, they could not bring themselves to kill such a hero. He was soon captured by the Manchu and brought to trial before Prince Dodo.

Prince Dodo, much impressed by Shi's loyalty as a general and his brilliant strategies fending off the Manchus with a doomed army, stated "You have done your duty, general; now I will grant you a post." . However, Shi refused to abandon the great Ming, wishing rather to commit suicide and vanish along with it. Dodo continued trying to persuade Shi to join his side for several weeks, but was not successful. Thus, Shi was granted his wish to perish along with his beloved dynasty. The Shi Kefa Memorial, a temple devoted to the memory of the local hero, is located in modern Yangzhou.


Shi Kefa calligraphy in cursive and semi-cursive style is celebrated and found in various collections.

Wang Xianzhi

Wang Xianzhi , courtesy name Zijing , was a famous of the Eastern Jin.

He was the seventh and youngest son of the famed Wang Xizhi. Wang inherited his father's talent for the art, although his siblings were all notable calligraphers. His style is more fluid than his father's, demonstrating a response and reaction against Wang Xizhi's calligraphy. Amongst his innovations is the one-stroke , which blends all characters in the writing in a single stroke. Until the Tang Dynasty his influence rivaled and even surpassed that of his father.

Wang Xizhi

Wang Xizhi was a Chinese calligrapher, traditionally referred to as the Sage of Calligraphy .

Born in , he spent most of his life in the present-day . He learned the art of calligraphy from Wei Shuo. He excelled in every script but particularly in the semi-cursive script. Unfortunately, none of his original works remains today.

His most famous work is the , the preface of a collection of poems written by a number of poets when gathering at Lanting near the town of Shaoxing for the . The original is lost, but there are a number of fine tracing copies and rubbings. Wikisource has .

Wang Xizhi is particularly remembered for one of his hobbies — rearing . Legend has it that he learnt the key of how to turn his wrist while writing by observing how the geese move their necks.

Wang Xizhi had seven children, all of whom were notable calligraphers. The most distinguished one was his youngest son, Wang Xianzhi.