Cataloguing Chinese propaganda posters

Cataloguing Chinese Propaganda Posters

This project compiled a catalogue of our collection of Chinese propoganda posters to increase public and scholarly access to the collection.

Published date:

The British Inter-University China Centre (BICC) funded a three-month project to catalogue and research our significant collection of Chinese propaganda posters.

90 posters were located and every item had its dimensions, condition, title (in pinyin, characters and English) and description recorded.

Each poster was also researched in detail. When and where had it been published and exhibited? Are there similar posters in other collections? Which organisations produced, published, distributed and printed the posters? All this information, and more, has been compiled and added the catalogue.

The posters were then categorised according to a number of different themes:

  • Posters related to the Mao cult, including colourised and heavily airbrushed photographic portraits of Mao Zedong dating from the late 1960s, and several examples of his calligraphy (and poetry).
  • A series of posters featuring chubby babies and children, dating to the late 1970s and early 1980s, several of which promote the one child policy.
  • A set of posters featuring the ubiquitous and (probably) semi-mythical soldier-hero Lei Feng (雷锋) and which eulogise the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
  • A fairly rare set of posters featuring satirical caricatures of the ‘Gang of Four’ (si ren bang, 四人邦), the group headed by Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, and which was blamed for the worse excesses of the Cultural Revolution in the wake of Mao’s death in 1976.
  • Two sets of public information posters dating from 1965 - one set deals with what to do in the event of an enemy air raid; the other, meteorological and agricultural observations.
  • Documentary and feature film posters - the Library’s collection seem to be unique in this respect; these are not something seen in large quantities in other collections.
  • Posters featuring scenes taken from the revolutionary model works (yang ban xi, 样板戏), including ‘The White Haired Girl’ (Bai mao nü, 白毛女), ‘The Legend of the Red Lantern’ (Hong deng ji, 红灯记) and ‘The Red Detachment of Women’ (Hong se niang zi jun, 红色娘子军).

While copyright implications have meant that it will not be possible to undertake the original plan to digitise the collection and make it publically accessible online, the catalogue – minus images – will be available to researchers on request.



East Asia

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