Goddess of Democracy
The Goddess of Democracy (also known as the Goddess of Democracy and Freedom, the Spirit of Democracy), and the Goddess of Liberty (自由女神; zìyóu nǚshén), was a 10-meter-tall (33 ft) statue created during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...


The statue was constructed in only four days out of foam and papier-mâché
Papier-mâché , alternatively, paper-mache, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste....

 over a metal armature
Armature (sculpture)
In sculpture, an armature is a framework around which the sculpture is built. This framework provides structure and stability, especially when a plastic material such as wax or clay is being used as the medium...

. The constructors decided to make the statue as large as possible so the government would be unable to dismantle it. The government would either have to destroy the statue—an action which would potentially fuel further criticism of its policies—or leave it standing.


The statue was built by students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts beginning on May 27 at their University. It was built in hopes of bolstering the movement which "seemed to be losing some of its momentum; the students suspected that the government was waiting for them to tire and leave the Square". Working with a sense of urgency and expedience, to create the model the larger statue would be based on the students reworked “a half-meter high clay sculpture of a man grasping a pole with two raised hands and leaning his weight on it.” It had been made as an academic exercise to demonstrate the effect of the distribution of weight on a piece. “The students cut off the lower part of the pole and added a flame at the top to turn it into a torch; they leaned the sculpture into a more upright position; they changed the man’s face to a woman’s, and otherwise added feminine characteristics to make the him into a her.” They then transferred the measurements of the model, adjusting them for the larger proportion, to the foam that once carved became the monument. Jeff Widener, known for his iconic Tank Man
Tank Man
Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man achieved widespread international...

 photograph, took other photographs of the fateful rally, including two widely publicised images of the Goddess – one under construction, and another in context of the demonstration.

While many people have noted its resemblance to the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

, a sculptor present during its construction, Tsao Tsing-yuan, has written that the students decided not to model their statue on the Statue of Liberty because they were concerned that it would be unoriginal and "too openly pro-American." Tsao further notes the influence on the statue of the work of Russian sculptor Vera Mukhina
Vera Mukhina
Vera Ignatyevna Mukhina was a prominent Soviet sculptor.- Life :Mukhina was born in Riga into a wealthy merchant family, and lived at Turgeneva st. 23/25, where a memorial plaque has now been placed. She later moved to Moscow, where she studied at several private art schools, including those of...

, associated with the school of revolutionary realism
Socialist realism
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art which was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism...

. Her piece Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman is a 24.5 meter high sculpture made from stainless steel by Vera Mukhina for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, and subsequently moved to Moscow. The sculpture is an example of the socialist realistic style, as well as Art Deco style...

was especially influential for their statue's head and facial features.

When the time came to transport the pieces of the statue to the Square, the State Security Bureau, hearing of the students' intention, declared that any truck drivers assisting them would lose their licenses. The students hired six Beijing carts (similar to a bicycle rickshaw
Cycle rickshaw
The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, becak, trisikad, or trishaw or, simply, rickshaw which also refers to auto rickshaws, and the, now uncommon, rickshaws pulled by a person on foot...

 except with a flat cart instead of a passenger area). Four carried the statue segments, and two carried the tools required to install it. The students had leaked a false itinerary of the move to throw off the authorities and moved the statue’s three segments from the Central Academy of Fine Arts to the Square by another route. Students of the other academies assisting in the construction linked arms around the carts for protection in case the authorities arrived. At dusk on May 29, with fewer than 10,000 protestors remaining in the square the Art Students constructed a bamboo scaffolding and then began assembling the statue. Troops called in to disrupt the movement and construction of the statue were “stalled en route by Beijing residents.” By the early morning of May 30, the statue was fully assembled in Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen Gate located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world...

. It broke up the north-south axis of the Square, standing between the Monument to the People's Heroes
Monument to the People's Heroes
The Monument to the People's Heroes is a ten-story obelisk that was erected as a national monument of the People's Republic of China.The Monument was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th centuries...

, and the Tiananmen Gate (which it faced looking at its large photograph of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

). Whether the students had intended it or not "dozens of television cameras expertly framed the ironic, silent confrontation between Goddess and Chairman." When the time came for the actual unveiling, On May 30, 1989, two Beijing residents, a woman and a man, were chosen at random from the crowd and invited into the circle to pull the strings that would remove the pieces of red and blue cloth. The crowd burst into cheers and shouted slogans such as "Long live democracy!" With the construction of the statue "The students, their flagging spirits revived, announced their determination to continue occupying the Square." While there had been just 10,000 people in the square on the 29th, with its unveiling "As many as 300,000 spectators flocked to the square on 30-31."

Statement by its creators

The art students who created the statue wrote a declaration that said in part :

The document was signed by the eight art academies that sponsored the creation of the statue: The Central Academies of Fine Arts, Arts and Crafts, Drama, and Music; the Beijing Film Academy; the Beijing Dance Academy; the Academy of Chinese Local Stage Arts; and the Academy of Traditional Music.

The entire statement was written "in rather crude calligraphy" on a long banner placed near the statue, and was read in its entirety by a female student "with a good Mandarin accent" from the Broadcasting Academy.

Democracy University

On June 3 even as the government troops positioned themselves to move on the students, applause erupted from the people gathered around the statue as it was announced there that a Democracy University would now begin classes in the Square with Zhang Boli appointed as its President. Even as classes began by the statue, to the west of the square and at Muxidi thousands of students moved to block the oncoming 27th Army who were armed with tanks, assault weapons, and bayonets. Blood was spilled by 10:30 p.m.

Fall of the Goddess

The soldiers were able to fulfill their timeline of reaching the Square on June 4, 1989 by 1 a.m. through the use of tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Goddess of Democracy had stood for only five days before being destroyed by soldiers of the People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 in the assault on Tiananmen that would end the Democracy Movement. The toppling of the Goddess of Democracy was seen by millions across the world on television: “pushed by a tank, it fell forward and to the right, so that its hands and the torch struck the ground first, breaking off." As the statue fell, protestors shouted "Down with Fascism!" and "Bandits! Bandits!" It was "quickly and easily reduced to rubble, mixing with all the other rubble in the Square. To be cleared away by the Army". By 5:40 a.m. a negotiated settlement allowed the remaining students to leave by the south-eastern corner of the square. The army had fulfilled its order to clear the Square by 6 a.m. Clashes continued throughout the city and in other towns across China.


The original statue has become an icon of liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 and a symbol of the free speech and democracy movements
World Movement for Democracy
World Movement for Democracy is an international network of individuals and organizations who share the common goal of promoting democracy. The World Movement was launched in February 1999 when the National Endowment for Democracy and two nongovernmental organizations in India brought together a...

. The Chinese government has tried to distance itself from any discussions about the original statue or about the Tiananmen Square protests, and in the case of the Victims of Communism Memorial
Victims of Communism Memorial
The Victims of Communism Memorial is a memorial in Washington, D.C. located at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street, NW, two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol...

 it called the building of a replica an "attempt to defame China."

Several replicas of the statue have been erected worldwide to commemorate the events of 1989:
  • A replica erected at a vigil attended by tens of thousands of people in Victoria Park
    Victoria Park, Hong Kong
    Victoria Park is a public park in Hong Kong, named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It is located in Causeway Bay, on the north of Hong Kong Island, between Causeway Bay and Tin Hau MTR stations...

    , Hong Kong on June 4, 1996.
  • A bronze sculpture
    Bronze sculpture
    Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze".Common bronze alloys have the unusual and desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling the finest details of a mold. Then, as the bronze cools, it...

     was begun in 1989, dedicated in 1994, by Thomas Marsh, leading a group of volunteers. It weighs approximately 600 pounds (272 kg) and stands in Portsmouth Square
    Portsmouth Square
    Portsmouth Square is a one-block park in Chinatown, San Francisco, California, that is bounded by Kearny Street on the east, Washington Street on the north, Clay Street on the south, and Walter Lum Place on the west....

    , in San Francisco
    San Francisco, California
    San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

    's Chinatown.
  • A copy at the University of British Columbia
    University of British Columbia
    The University of British Columbia is a public research university. UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley...

    , erected by the school's Alma Mater Society.
  • A gilded replica stands in the foyer of the Student Centre at York University
    York University
    York University is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada's third-largest university, Ontario's second-largest graduate school, and Canada's leading interdisciplinary university....

     in Toronto, Ontario.
  • A replica of the San Francisco statue was erected in an outdoor museum in Freedom Park Arlington, Virginia to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the protests
    10th anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    The 10th anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 was a series of rallies – street marches, parades, and candlelight vigils – that took place in late May to early June 1999 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 4 June Tiananmen Square protests of 1989...

  • An unknown artist's fiberglass
    Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

     copy was erected at the University of Calgary
    University of Calgary
    The University of Calgary is a public research university located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1966 the U of C is composed of 14 faculties and more than 85 research institutes and centres.More than 25,000 undergraduate and 5,500 graduate students are currently...

     in 1995, commemorating students who died in the uprisings six years earlier.
  • Two small-scale replicas were built and set up in Hong Kong in 2010 for the Tiananmen Square protests memorial gatherings, but were confiscated by the Hong Kong Police Force after a public display at Times Square Public Space. It was subsequently returned after due to the serious public opinion pressure, and was displayed at the vigil on June 4, 2010 at Victoria Park
    Victoria Park, Hong Kong
    Victoria Park is a public park in Hong Kong, named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It is located in Causeway Bay, on the north of Hong Kong Island, between Causeway Bay and Tin Hau MTR stations...

    . After the candle night memorial gathering, the new 3-meter bronze statue of the Goddess of Democracy was moved to the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus for permanent display at its entrance of University Train Station. The erection of this bronze statue of the Goddess of Democracy was not approved by the university administration but 2000 Chinese university students, staff and alum with many other Hong Kong citizen worked together after the Victoria Park gathering to guard the statue to move to Chinese University campus.

  • The Democracy Award given by the National Endowment for Democracy
    National Endowment for Democracy
    The National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is a U.S. non-profit organization that was founded in 1983 to promote US-friendly democracy by providing cash grants funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress...

     is a small-scale replica of the Goddess of Democracy.
  • A 3-meter bronze replica, Victims of Communism Memorial
    Victims of Communism Memorial
    The Victims of Communism Memorial is a memorial in Washington, D.C. located at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street, NW, two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol...

    , is in Washington, D.C..

Tsao Tsing-yuan, an advisor to the students who built the original, writes "I myself envision a day when another replica, as large as the original and more permanent, stands in Tiananmen Square, with the names of those who died there written in gold on its base. It may well stand there after the Chairman Mao's Mausoleum
Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall , commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or the Mao Mausoleum, is the final resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China from 1943 and the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China from 1945...

has, in its turn, been pulled down."

External links

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