The happy life Chairman Mao gave us, 1954
Visual images provide valuable material for the exploration of childhood, youth and history. Propaganda posters from the People's Republic of China (1949-present) are particularly rich, offering images that are both bold and subtle, and which many students find as nicely accessible sources to explore. The posters offer a sense of the ways in which a Chinese state and the individual artists it employed sought to use the image of the child to gain a broader public investment in political movements and to define new visions of the revolutionary cause, particularly during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Exploration of the imagery of children in these posters provides useful sources through which to explore the ways in which images of children would come to signify broader social and political meanings and to potentially inspire both youths and adults in their own definitions of self-identity.
This image, "The happy life Chairman Mao gave us, 1954," offers a domestic scene which appears surprisingly familiar to many students in its presentation of a happy family meal. Students have commented upon the ways in which children seem to symbolize the peace and material prosperity of China after the revolution of 1949. And yet, the prominence of the image of Mao himself is also noted – indeed, one student has insightfully observed that Mao himself appears to be joining the family at its very own dinner table.
This source is a part of the Chinese Propaganda Posters teaching module.
"The happy life Chairman Mao gave us, 1954," Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages, http://www.iisg.nl/landsberger/index.html (accessed March 9, 2009).