Liu Hulan (刘胡兰, 1932-1947) has served as a potent and forceful model for various segments of the rural population that needed to be coopted by the Party in the period preceding the founding of the PRC. First of all, she was a woman activist in her native village of Yunzhouxi, Shanxi Province. She became a CCP-member in 1946.
As an organizer, she had set up a chapter of the Women’s Federation, and in her capacity as secretary of that chapter, she had been actively involved in moblizing her fellow villagers to support the CCP in the civil war. When Nationalist troops surrounded the village in 1947 and attempted to cart off the confiscated grain reserves from the public granary, she led the villagers in resistance. She was executed.
In that same year, Liu was made a model. Mao penned the slogan "A great life, a glorious death" in her memory. In 1957, the Liu Hulan Memorial Hall was erected in Wenshuixian, Shanxi Province. One of its features became the Liu Hulan statue.
In the 1960s, Liu’s model status was reaffirmed time and again. Although she seems to have been replaced by more updated successors in recent decades, she remains a fixture in the pantheon of heroes.
Jin Qing, "Liu Hulan", in Qingnian yingxiongde gushi [Stories of youthful heroes] (Beijing: Zhongguo qingnian chubanshe, 1965) [in Chinese]
Shao Wu et al. (eds), 共和国群英谱 [Gongheguo qunyingpu - Register of heroes of the Republic] (Beijing: Zhongguo shaonian ertong chubanshe, 2003)
Xu Yan, 80 wei gongchandang rende gushi [The stories of 80 Communist Party personages] (Beijing: Jiefangjun wenyi chubanshe, 2001) [in Chinese]