Nostalgia: The Peasant Secretary

This 94-year-old man named Hu used to be a tenant farmer, an occupation passed down within his family. Their low social status made them oppressed for the most of the time. At one night in 1949, three People’s Liberation Army soldiers came to visit his house. He was so scared that he tried to escape. The soldiers stopped him, telling him amiably that Ningbo was liberated and that they would like to invite poor peasants like him to join the local Peasant Association in Banpu Village. Soon, attending its first meeting, Hu began to work as an honorable grass-roots cadre. The house that he lived in belonged to a landlord previously, and it was given to him and another peasant after confiscation by the government. Hu later became the secretary of Banpu Village. Now, with his wife, he spends the rest of his life in Banpu enjoying a serene lifestyle and an abundant pension. (Banpu Village, Ci City)

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Again, the story of Hu shows the theme of how people’s life would be dramatically affected by history. While some people moved downward along with the liberation, Hu moved up. History consists of tons of people’s life moving either upward and downward; Hu is just a small portion of it. He is the lucky one among them. It is fascinating comparing the stories of different individuals living in the same time period.

The Third Time I Met Him

A simple question: When you go to the Louvre Museum, which of the following is the least impressive one?

Mona Lisa

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Winged Victory of Samothrace

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Venus de Milo

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Lamassu

Stitched Panorama

Seated Scribe

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All of the five works are on the guide brochure of the Louvre Museum, and every day, tons of people look for them in this complexed palace. I believe that most answers to this questions would be Lamassu as the first three works are the three key highlights of the collections which almost everyone probably knows before coming. The Seated Scribe is not very famous, but from the name and introduction, visitors would gain a basic idea. However, Lamassu does not mean anything to most people, and the history of Assyrian art is unfamiliar to them.


The one in the Louvre Museum was not the first Lamassu I have ever seen in my life.

Last summer, I went to summer school to take the ESL classes for international students in my school. On one weekend, the school took us to the University of Chicago for a campus visit. As walking by the Oriental Institute, we stopped by and took a look inside. The collection where Lamassu belonged was at the end of the hallway. The size of Lamassu was pretty amazing, which was supposed to leave a deep impression on me although I did not know anything about it back then.

However, when I went the Louvre Museum in this summer, I was amazed by this work while listening to the audioguide. Surprisingly, I thought it was my first time seeing a giant Lamassu because I totally have no idea I had actually seen it before. Since I know some historical background this time, I remembered more about it.

This semester, I take art history class. The book says,

Sargon II founded a capital at Khorsabad, surrounded by a city wall with seven gates. Lamassu is the protective spirits placed a either side of each gate as guardians and also bore the weight of the arches above the gate.

From this description, I began to realized the importance of this winged human-headed animal guardian figures. It has five legs in total. When people see it from front, it stands still as if it is guarding the whole city; when people see it from side, it is moving as if it is ready to fight.

Last week when we went to the Oriental Institute in the University of Chicago, again, I met Lamassu for the third time. By looking at it with a deeper understanding, I feel the sense of harmony and stability it gave me. The third time I met him, I feel that the true value of art history is appreciating those less popular art pieces which are always ignored by most people.

That is probably why art history attracts me so much😊.