The Mao Era in Objects


'I lived in what was Qianfu Hutong in front of Tiananmen, which is now the Great Hall of the People. My family lived there from 1900. That was in a house with 12 rooms that was over 100 years old. The house didn’t look small, and from the outside looked as though it were made of bricks. But the inside was made of broken bricks stuck together with mud. In the past most of the houses that people in Beijing lived in were like this. Every time it rained, we were afraid the house would collapse. We lived like this for sixty years. Now that house has been demolished, and I live in a new building, and in a short time, the country has constructed the Great Hall of the People on the place where I used to live. This is really of great benefit for the country, and for me. Shortly after I had moved house, the Great Hall of the People was finished. On 6 October, we were given a visitor’s ticket to take those of us who had lived there to see it. On the day we went for a visit, they told us that it would be best not to bring children because there were many people on that day, and they were afraid that little children would run and jump about. But everyone took their whole family along. So, adults, children, old ladies[...] enthusiastically, Ah, it’s not necessary to say. From when we entered at one in the afternoon until we left at six in the evening, everyone lingered long in each place, looking and commenting, but we were not tired in the slightest. Everyone said this is the auditorium for the all the people in the country. It is our big family […] How would this Great Hall of the People be possible without the Great Leap Forward?'