Zhao Buchang's 5,000-square-meter museum houses more than 350,000 badges. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily
On display includes a badge portrayal of the wooden ship where the first meeting of the earliest CPC members was convened on South Lake in Jiaxing, eastern Zhejiang province, in 1921.
As the Communist Party of China celebrates its 90th birthday, China Daily reporter Zhu Linyong writes about a new museum in Heze, Shandong province, that features a cultural artifact from its history.
When Zhao Buchang served as a barefoot, volunteer doctor in Altay, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in the early 1960s, he forged a close relationship with the local herding communities, thanks to his superb medical skills.
"The Kazak people often gave me their cherished Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976) badges to express their gratitude. ... Then I began my 'red collection'," recalled the 73-year-old, who stayed in Xinjiang for 17 years.
Zhao, an admirer of Chairman Mao's revolutionary merits and military and political wisdom, has built the largest collection of Mao badges in the world.
Over the past decades, the physician-turned-entrepreneur has poured millions into his "red collection" - vintage badges and a great variety of items with images of the late Chinese leader.
So far, Zhao has accumulated more than 1.2 million vintage badges and pins bearing Mao's image, traveling extensively in different parts of the country in his spare time.
But, "it's worth it. ... The Chairman Mao badges are souvenirs, artworks and modern relics at the same time. I believe they have strong historical significance," he said.
Last weekend, Zhao opened the Chairman Mao Badges Museum in Heze, eastern Shandong province, sharing with the public his passion for Chairman Mao.
The 5,000-square-meter museum, constructed with an investment of about 120 million yuan ($18.5 million), houses more than 350,000 badges selected from Zhao's private collection.
The Mao badges, made of various materials and in different shapes, and sizes, integrate Chinese painting, calligraphy, seal-cutting art, photography, and sculpture. They present images of Mao at different stages in his political career from the 1920s to 1960s.
The museum's exhibits are arranged roughly in chronological order to offer a glimpse of the history of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the founding of the People's Republic of China and unprecedented achievements of the Chinese people over the past three decades.
The larger and heavier Mao badges are displayed in 38 showcases, and a multitude of Mao badges are used to create huge collages depicting historically significant sites and scenes. These include portrayals of the wooden ship where the first meeting of the earliest CPC members was convened on South Lake in Jiaxing, eastern Zhejiang province, in 1921; Mao's declaration of the People's Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949, at the Tiananmen Rostrum; the launch of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft on Sept 25, 2008; and the iconic structures of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai Expo.
Several other collages portray impressive Chinese scenic locations, such as the Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River in Yichuan county, Shaanxi province, and Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong.
But the most striking collage of all is probably the one at the museum's entrance with a panoramic view of the Great Wall.
The collage, 5 meters high and 26 meters long, was made with 189,300 Mao badges of different shapes, sizes and materials. It is the largest collage of its kind in the world.