- China.org.cn, April 21, 2015
Hunan has never been short of important figures throughout its history. In the first century, Cai Lun from Leiyang, Hunan used plant fibers to make the first paper in the world. Zhou Dunyi, a neo-Confucian scholar of the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279) was from Yongzhou, Hunan, and the 17th century outstanding thinker Wang Fuzhi was from Hengyang, Hunan.
Many leaders of the Communist Party of China, government and army are from Hunan, including Mao Zedong, Ren Bishi, Liu Shaoqi, Peng Dehuai, He Long, and Luo Ronghuan
Moreover, innumerable outstanding talents in literature, art, science, and education have also emerged from Hunan.
Qu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC) was a patriotic Chinese poet whose classic work “Sorrow after Departure” is the earliest known long lyric poem in China. The poem uses a series of metaphors to resolutely lay bare the repulsiveness of the ruling class, while at the same time it portrays upstanding models who adhere to justice, who are unafraid of persecution and who devote themselves to their country and people.
Qu Yuan was also a government minister with an important position in the State of Chu. However, the Chu king fell under the influence of other corrupt and jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan, and Qu was banished to a place called Xiang despite being his sovereign's most loyal counselor. In 278 BC, the State of Chu was conquered by the powerful State of Qin. Upon hearing this news, Qu Yuan waded into the Miluo River holding a huge rock to commit ritual suicide for his country.
Since that time, the Chinese people have memorialized the patriotic poet by enjoying Zongzi on the anniversary of his death. The Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival, also honors Qu.
Cai Lun (61 or 63-121) from Leiyang, Hunan used plant tissues to make the first paper in the world, which is one of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China. At that time, texts and inscriptions were generally written on pieces of silk or on tablets made from bamboo. But silk was costly and bamboo was heavy, so neither was very convenient to use. Cai's invention of paper has been one of the most critical inventions in the modern world. By the third century, papermaking was common, which helped the development of Chinese civilization by improving education, literacy and the greater spread of knowledge.
Zeng Guofan（1811-1872）was a leading statesman and military general in the late Qing Dynasty (AD 1636-1911). He led the Xiang Army to suppress the Taiping Rebellion, which won him continuous promotions throughout his political career.
Zeng was also a key figure in the Self-Strengthening Movement. Together with Li Hongzhang, who also sought to revive China's waning power in the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the two established the Jiangnan Arsenal in Shanghai in 1865, which was the largest modern arms-manufacturing and shipbuilding enterprise of its time in China.
On September 16, 1957, Qi Baishi, president of the Association of Chinese Artists, died at the age of 97. Qi was awarded the "International Peace Award" in 1955.
Qi Baishi was one of the most famous Chinese painters of the 20th century. He was born into a peasant family from Xiangtan, Hunan. After working as a carpenter, Qi became a world-famous painter who made an extraordinary contribution to the development of Chinese art. Qi received the title "People's Artist" from the Central Cultural Ministry in 1953.
Mao Zedong (1893-1976) was a Chinese proletarian revolutionary, Marxist, poet, strategist and theorist. He is one of the most influential figures in China's modern history.
Mao was born on December 26, 1893 into a farmer's family in Shaoshan Village in Hunan Province.
Mao was the founding father of the People's Republic of China and served as its chairman from its establishment in 1949. He was also the chairman of the First National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and honorary chairman of the second, third and fourth CPPCC National Committees. He died in 1976 at age 83.
Shen Congwen is the alias of Shen Yuehuan, a famous ethnic Miao Chinese writer and historian of the 20th century. He is best known for his novels depicting the landscapes, folk customs and rural culture of his native Hunan Province. Much of his writing concentrates on the difficulty of rural and suburban life during China's painful transformation in the early 20th century, and most of his stories usually end with a simple and sincere outlook for a bright future. Shen's straightforward and simple style was so influential that he was dubbed the "Father of China's Countryside Literature."
Shen was born in 1902 to a rural family in the famous Hunan scenic Phoenix Town. He joined a contingent of local troops when he finished school in 1918 and was sent to the borders of Hunan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces. During this time, Shen witnessed endless border conflicts and gained further familiarity with the lives of Miao tribesmen.