Mao among the people

Alia | December 26th, 2013 - 5:26 am

Stories of Mao never get old in China, at least not yet. Today is his 120th birthday, and Sina put together a photo essay titled “Mao among the people,” telling stories of Mao impersonators across the country. Back in Mao era, such “commercial” impersonators would probably be labeled as “anti-revolutionary” and received severe punishment. In today’s China, however, playing Mao is good business, even when many young Chinese have already changed their views about the “great leader.”

Chen Yan from Mianyang, Sichuan province, is China’s first female impersonator of Mao. There was quite some buzz earlier this year about how her husband refused to sleep with her because it was weird to be in bed with “Chairman Mao.”


In 2008, Hunan provincial drama troupe held an open audition for a player for Mao. The picture shows one of the 14 Mao impersonators. (Mao’s from Hunan) 


2008, a Mao impersonator was invited to an activity in Shandong province, and was hailed by local crowds.


2008, at a celebration of Mao’s 115th birthday in Hunan province, a Mao impersonator was eating a bowl of “longevity” noodles.


2009, at Luoyang, Henan province, a Mao impersonator was hired to deliver a speech at a group wedding of 60 couples.


2011, Mao impersonator Miu Shixuan in Chongqing. He works as a teacher, and everyone in his school knows that he admires Mao. Students greet him by “Hello, Chairman.”


2011, a Mao impersonator was giving a speech at a press conference in Shanxi for a local red song group. His every single move felt like Mao himself.


2012, at the press conference of a revolution-themed TV drama, people rushed to take pictures with Mao’s player.


2013, Taiyuan, Shanxi province, a Mao impersonator was shooting an ad for Chinese white wine.


2012, a Mao impersonator at a local performance in Dexing, Jiangxi province.


2013, a Mao impersonator was hired to “add flavor” to a wedding ceremony.


Which one do you think is the best? 


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3 Responses to “Mao among the people”

  1. [...] Today is his 120th birthday, and Sina put together a photo essay, telling stories of Mao impersonators across the country. from China Studies at Leiden University [...]

  2. [...] see a photo gallery of Mao impersonators annotated by Offbeat China, or a roundup of netizen objections to recent state media coverage of [...]

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