Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Statue theme park

I had been wanting to visit Tahsi - which houses the temporary mausoleum of Taiwan's late President, Chiang Kai-shek for some time..and finally got a chance this week - just a few days ahead of the 32nd anniversary of his death.

It was quite a strange experience. First, a very elaborate changing of the guard ceremony outside the mausoleum [Chiang's dying wish was to be properly buried in China]. These days, ironically, lots of mainland Chinese who travel to the site - which is set in a beautiful and tranquil spot in the mountains.

It was said to remind Chiang of his birthplace in Zhejiang province, China. Just a short stroll away is a park set up by the township, which houses more than 120 unwanted statues of the late President.

Many were originally sited in schools or public buildings - but taken down as part of a goverment push to remove legacies of the island's authoritarian past.
The impression is a sort of CKS theme park..a rather bizarre collection of assorted statues all looking in different directions.
The township mayor, Su Wen-Sheng, says he hopes the park will help boost tourism - and also preserve the monuments as cultural artifacts.
But with so many statues being removed recently (the largest being a huge bronze of a seated Chiang that was recently located in the cultural centre in Kaohsiung) the park may soon run out of space for the unwanted figures.

This is part of what remains of the Kaohsiung statue..its now in more than 100 pieces. The original artist is trying to figure out if he can patch it back together...but it could be an expensive undertaking and it might not all fit together now..

I was reminded of this poem - Ozymandius - by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

"I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert...
Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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