The new Nanjing Massacre Museum is a stunning memorial to the victims of the massacre. When seen as a whole, it is a massive work of art, skillfully depicting the enormity of the horrors of that time through shapes and textures and imagery, while simultaneously honoring each victim. The museum was built for the 300,000, but after experiencing it, one felt that all suffering in the world had been represented there.
The day we were visiting was cold, foggy and rainy, as you will see in the outdoor pictures. Our guide, the wonderful Janny Chang, said the weather always seems to be that way when she brings people to the museum, as if the weather god is crying along with us.
The moment you get off the bus, you are confronted with statues that wrenchingly depict the suffering that occurred.
The courtyard of the museum is entered through this massive stone structure with a narrow path cut through it.
This darkened room is the first you enter. Looking over the sparkling lights you see an ever changing display of victim’s faces, a deep gong sounding as each new face appears.
Along the path to the next room is a wall of victim’s names.
The next part of the museum is the description of the massacre that you saw last post. Leaving that part you come to a wall of pictures. There was unfortunately no English description that I could find, so I don’t know if these were victims or survivors (although the survivors could also be called victims).
One of the many, who stood out especially for me.
Culturally, it is interesting to note the description of the massacre as a national humiliation. While Americans might have individually felt humiliated by such events, as a nation I think the response would likely have been one only of outrage. It’s hard to imagine using the word “humiliating” in a plaque in an American museum. The Chinese, however, are very concerned with “losing face”, and the massacre was a huge instance of losing face for them, another reason that Japan’s lack of humility and apology over their deeds rankles so much.
No picture can quite capture the next room. It is filled, floor to ceiling, with shelves,each containing, 3 deep, binders filled with the biographies of each of the victims.
My apologies for the bad picture, it was nearly pitch dark in this room.
The darkened room narrowed to a sharp, thin, vertical line of light in the distance. Every 12 seconds a drop of water was heard falling, representing one of the victims.
The walkway leaving the main building.
The courtyard was a work of art itself. All of the stones in the center of this courtyard and elsewhere in the museum represent the bones of the victims
Throughout the museum, textures were used to great effect to create feelings.
- It’s unlikely that this cross has the same meaning here as it does in the West. It shows the dates of the massacre.
This large sculpture represents the bloody edge of the swords that beheaded so many. (You can see a distant view in the panorama of the courtyard.)
The hand of oppression
This courtyard was a memorial of the survivors
Footprints of survivors
Statue of Iris Chang, a Chinese American who wrote the definitive book on the massacre, “The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of WWII.” The writing experience was so painful that it led to her suicide.
View of the another courtyard.
Entering this room, a piano could be heard playing melancholy music
Plaque at the back of the hall
This room contained a long ledge filled with origami that has been made by Japanese visitors. The origami figures represent their sorrow, and apologies, for the atrocities perpetrated by their country.
Leaving through the same stones we entered by is a totally different feeling.