A massive white glazed porcelain figure of Mao Tse Tung
Our ref. 281 A massive white glazed porcelain figure of the Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung, numbered ‘No.2’ and one of just a handful ever made. The pedestal base is decorated with the characters ‘May Mao Tse Tung lives for 10,000 years’ and the reverse side reads ‘October 1967’ and is impressed with the mark ‘002’.
Provenance: The Chinese Ambassador to Rome
Note: This statue is particularly well modelled and was manufactured in Jingdezhen early in 1967 to the order of the Chinese government. It is replete with great and accurate attention to detail. The subject stands with his lightly clasped hands behind his back. Trousers drape the shoes and the subject wears the archetypal ‘Mao jacket’ with four buttoned pockets and five buttons to the front of the jacket. This is, it might be argued, a rather romanticised view of the Chinese leader but it has to be remembered it was created, just as The Cultural Revolution was launched, on government instruction and is, as such, a ‘heroic’ interpretation and is, indeed, correct down to the famous birthmark on the chin whilst possibly flattering some of the features of the renowned leader.
Its rarity and government provenance – most probably it is the only surviving statue white-glazed of this size – is emphasised by the fact it is unlisted in The Cultural Revolution Porcelain Wares by Fan Jianchuan (2002) although a similar model of much smaller size (27cm.)is illustrated (no.27) with Mao Tse Tung in similar pose, in Mao jacket and standing with hands behind his back. However, on such rather small models there is no inscription of any kind.
In his Author’s Preface, Fan Jianchuan records some interesting aspects of creating a statue of such great size. ‘A coloured porcelain statue of Chairman Mao among my collections stands 1.4m. high and weighs 200 kilograms. Workers who kilned the statue told me that more than 100 statues of the same type (were) turned out but only a few were considered successful. The old kilns were demolished and rebuilt in order to increase their heights because Chairman Mao’s statue should be fired on all sides.’ Similarly, there can be little doubt of the enormous challenges faced by the workers who created this very large monochrome statue. It remains with us today as an icon for a most dramatic and troubled period of Chinese history.
Price: Offers IRO £500,000