Visual Culture in Communist China

observing, analyzing & re-presenting the art of twentieth century china

Wuchang Uprising Bas-relief


This image is one of the eight bas-reliefs located at the base of the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The entire monument consists of marble and granite, however this bas-relief is made out of marble. This bas-relief is honoring those who fought and or died died in the Wuchang Uprising in 1911. The people in this bas-relief consists of soldiers and civilians who appear to be charging forward in the same direction without any signs of hesitation. All of them in the same forward position and urgency provides the viewer a sense of unity and courage.

Henry Tsang, Canada

Most of the men appear to be wearing the same uniform, except for a few. One of the characters has his shirt off while carrying a hatchet in his right hand. The artist of this bas-relief made this character’s muscles stand out to allow the viewer to see the strength, courage, and power of the soldiers and civilians who fought in this rebellion. Another effect of having his shirt off shows that not everyone who fought was a soldier. The hatchet has significant meaning because it requires a lot more effort to fight with a hatchet than a gun, showing the determination and importance this scene had on the people in this image. There appears to be a dragon in the background, which in China is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. There is also a traditional Chinese building in the background, this was to narrow the scene down to  in “which rebellious soldiers and civilians storm the mansion of the local Imperial Viceroy, inflicting a deadly blow to the last feudal dynasty in Chinese history.” This provides the viewer with a sense of location and time period. The size of this bas-relief is quite large (two meters high), however not to scale size. For it to not be to scale size may have been done on purpose to contribute to it’s appearance of being a historical event. However given how large it is, it can allow the viewer to feel as if they are there with the people during that uprising. Another feature contributing to that feeling of being there for the viewer is that this is a realistic image, with extremely fine detail. Color is not used in this bas-relief. Not having color gives the image a more serious view and historical value.



“ Monument to the People’s Heroes.” Ethnic Groups,

Tsang, Henry. Goya to Beijing – Gallery – H. Tsang/02,

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