Collectibles a major drain on devotee’s cash
Staying online until 4 am to bid on the wartime notebook of an officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is how Jin Tiehua started his day on the 120th anniversary of Chairman Mao Zedong’s birth.
Jin, 65, started collecting historical materials related to the Communist Party of China in 1992.
On Thursday, after staring at the computer screen for most of the night, his bid was successful. For 520 yuan ($86), the notebook was his.
After little sleep, Jin was preparing to go to the National Museum of China to participate in an activity celebrating Mao’s birthday. He said he had been invited by descendants of Mao to take part in commemorative activities three times this year.
The Beijing resident started his collection because of his respect for Mao. He spends virtually all of his salary on it.
“I have zero savings,” Jin said.
“I’ve spent an average of 2,000 yuan a month for the past 20 years buying red collectibles. My salary isn’t enough, so I have to use my wife’s money,” he said, a little sheepishly. “Sometimes I even have to turn to my son for 1,000 yuan a month.
“I don’t know how many objects I have. It could be 20,000, 40,000 or even more,” Jin said.
His more than 60-squaremeter apartment is crammed with various themed collections. He has made full use of every space, even the ceilings and the backs of picture frames, creating an atmosphere that seems more like a warehouse than a home.
Jin’s collections include Communist Party material dating from the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.
But he is most proud of his Mao collection.
“I have a copy of an article Chairman Mao wrote in 1912 about Shangyang, a reformer of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). I have a New Youth magazine with Chairman Mao’s article that was published in 1917. I have Chairman Mao’s resume he handed in to join the Youth Association, a communist group founded by revolutionary Li Dazhao,” Jin said.
Jin, however, does not have much in his collection relating to the “cultural revolution” (1966-76). Among the few items representing that period is a copy of a dazibao, a poster written in large Chinese characters used by the Red Guards to denounce people at about the time Jin was 16 years old. The person denounced by this dazibao is his father.
“My father died during the ‘cultural revolution’,” Jin said, without giving details.
But this has not altered his affection toward Mao.
“I believe Chairman Mao’s motive in initiating the ‘cultural revolution’ was good,” Jin said. “If he were still alive, there would be no corruption, which brings great losses to the Party and the country.’’
Jin wants history to live on. “I hope that every Party member will collect some materials from the early stages and hand them down as heirlooms.”
Jin Tiehua shows his collection of items related to Chairman Mao Zedong on Thursday.