Monday, May 16, 2011

The Great Nanjing Massacre, Zi Jian Li, 1992

Zi Jian Li created the huge painting The Great Nanjing Massacre in 1992 to commemorate the 300,000 Chinese people who were killed in the Great Nanjing Massacre. During World War II, Japanese armies invaded and took over the Nanjing province of China on December 13, 1937. After the Japanese soldiers settled in Nanjing, the soldiers began a massive murder called the Great Nanjing Massacre. Within six months, between 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese people were murdered (Jones). To help remember this horrifying event, Zi Jian Li painted the scene of two Japanese soldiers murdering innocent Chinese people and named the painting after the event (Miao). Zijian Li painted mountain of dead bodies of civilians to show the brutality and horror of the war and the misfortune of the innocent people who were involved in the war.
During an interview for Xiao Xiang Daily in 2005, Zijian Li introduced that The Great Nanjing Massacre is composed of three parts with different themes. The left part where the two Japanese soldiers stand is called “Tu (to kill)”. The middle part in which there is a baby crying on the top of the dead bodies is named “Sheng (to be born)”. The right side with a monk dragging an old man’s body is called “Fo (the Buddha)”. The first part of the painting, “Tu”, clearly states the evil actions of Japanese soldiers to the Chinese people. The man on the left who is cleaning the blood on his sword is even smiling to his partner. The two soldiers stand there with no guilt as if they did not kill hundreds of people but animals. The two soldiers represent the evilness and mercilessness of the war. In the middle part, the pile of dead bodies becomes one of the focuses of the painting. The twisted body parts of the corpses and the blood flowing on the ground reveal the disgusting side of the war. However, Zi Jian painted a survived boy lying on the top of the corpses and crying. Zi Jian explained that the boy represents the hope of the future of China. Although many people were murdered during the massacre, as long as there is a survivor, there is hope. This is the reason that Zi Jian named the middle part “Sheng,” since it not only means to be born but also means to live. Zijian Li attempts to spread the message to the suffering Chinese civilians that even though the war is horrible, everyone should still fight to live. The last part “Fo” is to show the sympathy and kindness of the Buddha, since Buddhism is extremely popular in China. The monk who is trying to bury all the victims’ bodies looks exceedingly benevolent comparing to the two Japanese soldiers. The deaths of thousands of innocent civilians painted in The Great Nanjing Massacre show the extreme violence and disgusting side of the war. The generous monk at the right becomes a symbol calling for peace and humanity.

Works Cited:

Miao, Meng. "The Exhibition of The Great Nanjing Massacre by Zijian Li." Memorial Hall for the Great Nanjing Massacre. Shanxi Daily, 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.

Jones, Adam. "Gendercide Watch: The Nanjing Massacre." Gendercide Watch., 2002. Web. 16 May 2011.

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