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Exhibition reveals meanings of Dr Sun's grand funeral

     To mark the 80th anniversary of the Grand Funeral of Dr Sun Yat-sen, an exhibition featuring more than 180 historical photographs and invaluable cultural relics will be held at the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum from tomorrow (September 4) until March 17, 2010, probing the profound meanings of the funeral that was held on June 1, 1929.

     Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Administration Bureau of Dr Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum Scenic Area, and co-organised by the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum and Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum, Nanjing, the exhibition, "Icon of an Era: the Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum 1929.6.1", introduces the organisation of Dr Sun's funeral, including the construction of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and the removal of Dr Sun's coffin from Beijing to Nanjing. The exhibition also explores the implicit messages conveyed by the Mausoleum and the funeral of Dr Sun Yat-sen.

     In October 1924, Feng Yuxiang invited Dr Sun to Beijing to discuss national affairs. He fell ill on reaching Tianjin and, after arriving in Beijing, was admitted to Peking Union Medical College Hospital on December 31. He was diagnosed with liver cancer, and, although both Western and Chinese medical treatment was administered, Dr Sun passed away on March 12, 1925, at his residence in Tieshizi Alley in Beijing.

     On March 19, his coffin was moved from the hospital to Beijing's Central Park for a public memorial service. Records show that from March 24 to April 1, over 740,000 visitors and 1,254 organisations came to pay tribute to him. At the same time, memorial services were held all over China and in other countries. On April 2, Dr Sun’s coffin was moved to Biyun Temple in Xiangshan, Beijing, where it stayed until his grand funeral in 1929. In July 1928, when the Northern Warlords had surrendered and China was reunited, the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) decided to transport Dr Sun's coffin to Nanjing for interment.

     Dr Sun had expressed his wish to be buried in Nanjing as early as March 1912 while out hunting on Mount Zijin, and he reiterated his wish before he passed away: "After I die, please bury me among the ranges of Mount Zijin in Nanjing. As the Provisional Government was founded in Nanjing, let it be remembered as the home of the 1911 Revolution." The Preparatory Office for the Funeral of Dr Sun Yat-sen was set up to organise his interment and to oversee the construction of the mausoleum. The office selected a location and sought submissions from architects and artists across the globe for a design. Lu Yanzhi, a 33-year-old architect, won the competition with his bell-shaped design.

     The Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum was constructed in three phases. Begun in 1926 and completed in late 1931, the entire construction process lasted six years and cost $2.2 million. June 1, 1929, was set as the date for the funeral. In order to educate the people of China on the significance of the event, the government organised a train to move Dr Sun's coffin from Beijing to Nanjing and to conduct promotional work in places along the route.

     On May 26, 1929, Dr Sun's coffin left Biyun Temple, reaching Nanjing on May 28. From May 29 to 31, a three-day public vigil was held at the Nationalist Party’s headquarters. At 4am on June 1, Dr Sun's coffin began its journey from the headquarters, passing in front of hundreds of thousands of Nanjing citizens who lined the route to bid farewell to him. The funeral procession reached Mount Zijin at 8am, and the hearse arrived at the plaza of the mausoleum at 9.20am. The coffin was placed under a large coffin cover and then lifted up at 9.45am. At 10.08am, the coffin reached the burial platform. The grand funeral ceremony was then held in the sacrificial hall, finishing at noon. Dr Sun had finally been laid to rest according to his wishes on Mount Zijin in Nanjing.

     The significance of Dr Sun Yat-sen's grand funeral has rekindled academic interest in recent years. Scholars recognise that the funeral has far-reaching historical implications beyond its function as a ritual. The construction of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, culminating in the grand funeral held on June 1, 1929, is the central focus of discussions, while the mausoleum's siting in Nanjing, its architecture and the funeral rites are all endowed with rich symbolism.

     The Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum is at 7 Castle Road, Mid-levels, Central, Hong Kong. It opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except the anniversaries of Dr Sun's birth on November 12, his death on March 12 and public holidays). Admission fee is $10 with a half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Free admission is available on every Wednesday, the anniversaries of Dr Sun's birth (November 12) and death (March 12).

     For details, please visit the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum's website at or call 2367 6373.

Ends/Thursday, September 3, 2009


People flock to Central Park, Beijing, to pay tribute to Dr Sun Yat-sen. After his death in Beijing on March 12, 1925, his coffin was moved from the hospital to the Central Park for a public memorial service. According to official statistics, more than 740,000 individuals and 1,254 organisations paid their respects to him between March 24 and April 1.


The notebook in which Dr Sun Yat-sen's granddaughter, Dai Chenggong, copied the letters that her father Dai Ensai wrote to her mother Sun Wan (Dr Sun's second daughter) about Dr Sun's final hours.


A transportation pass issued to Sun Wan (Dr Sun's second daughter) by the office for coffin removal during Dr Sun's funeral in 1929.


The train bearing Dr Sun's coffin leaving Pukou for Beijing on May 10, 1929. To educate the public on the significance of Dr Sun's funeral and promote his teachings, the Nationalist Government in 1929 organised a series of programmes which included "Measures for Commemorating the Funeral of Premier Sun", a national campaign to promote the memorial service, a campaign to promote the welcoming of the coffin procession on its southward route, one to promote its arrival in Nanjing and another to promote the farewell to Dr Sun's coffin in Beijing, as well as a train campaign promoting the moving of the coffin.


Picture shows Dr Sun Yat-sen's coffin being lifted up to the burial chamber of the mausoleum on June 1, 1929.


The Procession Order for the Removal of Dr Sun Yat-sen's Coffin published by the office for coffin removal for the funeral in 1929. It details the order of the coffin removal procession, including the procession schedule and route in Beijing, the schedule and location for the firing of cannons, decorations along the procession route, the dates of public memorial services, the organisations and the number of members that could take part in the procession, as well as other requirements.



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