One Man Sculpture Park

Cihu, a quiet, scenic place in northern Taiwan, is where Chiang Kai-Shek’s body is entombed. It is officially known as the Mausoleum of Late President Lord Chiang. Adjacent to this Mausoleum is a sculpture garden called the Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park. This is a very unique park, as it is the only memorial park in the world dedicated to statues of a single person. These sculptures are installed throughout the grounds, somewhat like the Rodin sculpture garden in Paris, if all of the sculptures were of one person. Statues of Chiang Kai-shek have been neatly spread into the verdant hillside along the walking path and trails in the park. Chiang Kai-shek is posed in various ways; whole body or bust, sitting or standing, holding out a cap, in military uniform, carrying a sword, on horseback. Some of the statues look up solemnly, others have smiles and affable expressions. These sculptures vary in height from small 20-inch busts to a seated sculpture 25 feet tall. Each sculpture has its own unique aesthetic value.
Sculpture Garden 1
Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) was one of the most important political leaders in twentieth century Chinese history. He joined the Chinese Nationalist Party (known as the Kuomintang, or KMT) in 1918, and succeeded party founder Sun Yat-sen as KMT leader in 1925. He expelled Chinese communists from the party and, in 1928, consolidated power with the party's former regional warlords, leading to a successful unification of China. In 1937, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China, sparking the Sino-Japanese War. China fought Japan on its own for more than four years, until the United States came into the war against Japan in 1941. China became one of the Allied Powers, and Chiang’s international reputation skyrocketed.
Statue, seated
After the end of World War II, during the subsequent resumption of the Chinese Civil War between KMT and Communist forces, Chiang lost Mainland China to the Chinese Communists. In 1949, the Republic of China government under the KMT withdrew to Taiwan and Chiang Kai-shek declared martial law. Under martial law that Chiang imposed, people critical of his rule were persecuted and many who were not party people suffered imprisonment. Some of these prisoners were the founders of the later Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The KMT ruled Taiwan as a single-party state for forty years, until democratic reforms were promulgated by his son Chiang Ching-kuo in the 1980s.
More Statues
During the ruling years of Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, the KMT-led ROC government erected monuments commemorating Nationalist leaders. People rushed to set up more statues of Chiang to honor him for strengthening Taiwan's economy and building its armed forces to confront a possible Communist invasion from the mainland. Chiang’s statues are found almost everywhere in Taiwan, from parks to schools to military bases, and are usually made of a bronze alloy. In 2000, it was estimated there were nearly 43,000 Chiang statues erected in various locations throughout Taiwan.
In 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party won the election, becoming the ruling party. Chen Shui-bian, a native Taiwanese (as opposed to Chiang, who was born in the mainland), was elected as a new president, and was the first non-KMT president on Taiwan. Chen’s election ended more than fifty years of Kuomintang (KMT) control of the executive branch (known as the Executive Yuan) in Taiwan.

Chen Shui-bian, along with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, claimed the statues symbolized Chiang Kai-shek's authoritarian rule and cult of personality and therefore were not consistent with the principles of a representative democracy and should be removed from military bases and government agencies. The Ministry of National Defense first proposed removing Chiang’s statues from military bases in March 2006 as part of a broader nationwide effort to de-politicize the military. Both statements triggered a wave of statue removals. The park has accepted about two hundred of these statues from different institutions throughout the island, and had them arranged with the help of local artists. It has been attracting people (from both China and Taiwan) in droves since it opened to the public in 2000.

This park gives visitors a good idea of the cult of personality formed around Chiang Kai-shek. I spoke to some tourists who had traveled a great distance here to pay their respects. "If it weren't for him, Taiwan would not be as it is today," they said. Others come here just to get a touch of history. Love him or hate him, he was a statesman of The Republic of China and a very important figure in modern Chinese history. There are still many Chiang statues remaining in Taiwan, where they continue to watch over public squares, schools, and parks.

If you are interested, there are some books about Chiang Kai-shek and his family in the Library System.
Books on Chiang
The Man Who Lost China: The first full biography of Chiang Kai-shek. Crozier, Brian 1976

The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and Struggle for Modern China. Taylor, Jay 2009

Chiang, Kai-shek: China’s Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Fenby, Jonathan 2003

The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China. Pakula, Hannah 2009

Madame Chiang, Kai-shek: China’s Eternal First Lady. Li, Laura Tyson, 2006

--Jean Chou, West Windsor Branch


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