Jingzhu weida de daoshi Mao zhuxi wanshouwujiang! (Wishing the Great Teacher Chairman Mao a Long Life!)

Women xin zhong zui hong zui hong de hong taiyang Mao zhuxi yu yi jiu liu qi nian shier yue sanshi yi ri jiejian zai Beijing canjia Mao Zedong sixiang xuexi ban xuexi de xueyuan he chuxi yixie huiyi de renyuan. (Chairman Mao, the Reddest, Reddest, Red Sun in Our Hearts Receives Participants in a Mao Zedong Thought Study Class and Other Meeting Attendees, 31 December 1967.)

Beijing: Renmin meishu chubanshe, 1969 Stock Code: 149240
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Imposing Chinese propaganda poster showing Mao at the apex of his power

A large propaganda poster printed at the height of the Mao cult and intended to reinforce Mao's predominant position in Chinese politics. It shows a jovial Mao at one of the many events where representatives of the Cultural Revolution's radical revolutionary masses - especially students and workers - could bask in the light of China's "reddest, reddest, red sun." The featured photograph was first published under the same slogan in black-and-white on the front cover of the state newspaper People's Daily on 2 January 1968.

The present poster was published by People's Fine Arts Publishing House, the central publisher in charge of disseminating portraits of Mao during the Cultural Revolution. Its decision to publish this poster in May 1969 is closely linked to political developments in China at the time. After almost three years of intense mass activism in which rival factions of students and workers competed in increasingly violent circumstances to topple party cadres from power and prove their loyalty to Mao's so-called "revolutionary line," in April 1969 the Chinese Communist Party convened its Ninth Congress. The meeting was a "congress of victors" (MacFarquhar and Schoenhals, p. 285) designed to reassert state control over the mass movement and cement the political positions of the factions who had won out in the conflicts of the previous years. Soon after, militant students began to be shipped off to the countryside to neutralise their ability to mount any further challenges to authority, and the People's Liberation Army emerged as the predominant force in the party's internal politics. The message of this poster is that Mao is in supreme control of the Party after the congress and has no intention of stepping back from front-line leadership after the recent battles for the Party's soul.

The fate of other leaders who joined Mao at the same meeting in 1967 speaks to the astonishing fluidity of Chinese politics in this period and the remarkable way in which Mao was the only leader to ever feature at all consistently in state propaganda. Lin Biao, Mao's number two and ever-present at Mao's side in the Cultural Revolution's early years, found himself increasingly out of favour with Mao after 1969; he would eventually die while attempting to flee the country. Another attendee, Qi Benyu, fell from grace in 1968 and would be arrested and stripped of all his positions. Even the long-standing Premier, Zhou Enlai, would come under intense criticism in the early 1970s for having erred from Mao's way of thinking on policy matters. For propagandists designing posters such as this, it was always safest to focus on Mao alone.

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Poster (770 x 530 mm), showing Chairman Mao in a grey 'Mao suit' with hands clasped together and a caption below in red.


Tiny chip to left margin, a few trivial nicks to extremities, image sharp and vibrant. In excellent condition.


Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, Mao's Last Revolution, Harvard University Press, 2006.


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