The Mao Era in Objects

Aggregated Map

Located on the north China plain, Beijing has been the capital of China for six centuries.

The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement unfolded in three major protest areas: Admiralty, Causeway Bay, and Mong Kok.

Five new residential units designed for construction on the campus of Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, were published in Architectural Journal in June 1961. Collectively, the units were capable of supporting teaching staff equivalent to 171 households, with each person allocated approximately 6-7 square meters of space. Standardized layouts helped to reduce design and building costs while gesturing toward the broader promises of socialist modernity offered by new technologies like standardized brick and block production.

Kunming is the capital city of Yunnan Province, which contains several ethnic minorities and borders Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar, which were European colonies prior to the Japanese invasion in WWII. Kunming had rail and road links to French Indochina prior to WWII, as well as French villas and foreign residents. The city and province were dominated by local warlords, who sided with the Republic of China against Japan in WWII (1937-1945) and although Kunming was bombed, it was never occupied. Warlord Long Yun 龙云 kept Kunming largely independent from Chiang Kai-shek's wartime capital in Chongqing as well, giving the city a unique historical profile. Although Chinese Nationalists and Communists were present in the city and surrounding areas, most educated Chinese people in Kunming had little experience with or knowledge of communism.

Wuxi and its surrounding Jiangsu Province were a stronghold of the Chinese Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek. Many educated workers and professionals lived there and also endured a lengthy Japanese occupation (1937-1945). They had little experience of communism prior to 1949. Wuxi and Jiangsu Province, densely populated, in the Republican Era the people were well educated, and families were wealthier when compared with other provinces of China. Consequently, many educated Chinese residents of Wuxi and Jiangsu, especially those whose families engaged in landlordism, had to be careful with their actions and speech under the new regime.

This particular copy of Three Times to Nanjing was first collected and edited in Nanjing in 1974, and then 'passed on and edited' again later the same year.

Located in China’s northwest on the banks of the Yellow River, Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Province.

Shaoshan was Chairman Mao’s birthplace (Mao Zedong Guju 毛泽东故居). It was a popular site for travelling Red Guards to visit during the Cultural Revolution, and it was frequently depicted on badges [See Mao Badges: Shaoshan Badge]. The Shaoshan Mao Badge Factory had one of the biggest and most diverse outputs of any badge factory during the Cultural Revolution.

Regarded as the center of political power in Beijing, Tiananmen Square is the open space in front of the Forbidden City’s Tiananmen Gate. Around its edges are the Great Hall of the People, the Chairman Mao Mausoleum, and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution (today’s National Museum of China). In the center stands the Monument to the People’s Heroes.

Tian’anmen Gate, also known as Gate of Heavenly Peace, entrance to the Forbidden City, the site where the founding of the People’s Republic was proclaimed.

In April 1966, People’s Publishing House with its headquarters in Beijing was ordered by the CCP Center to take over printing and to supply the Quotations to the general public via the network of Xinhua bookstores.

On 30 December 1940, the CCP establishes the Yan’an Xinhua Radio Station at its revolutionary base area in Shaanxi province, which will later become the Central People’s Broadcasting Station.

Chongqing was the wartime (1937-1945) capital of the Republic of China, situated in the western province of Sichuan where it was difficult for Japanese forces to reach. Previously, the city was administered by regional warlords until the Republican government under Chiang Kai-shek began asserting its authority there from 1936. The wartime government changed the city, leaving behind many professionals and educated workers. Those who were local, or chose to remain in Sichuan after the war and 1949 revolution, had to adjust to the new regime very quickly, for which the diary would be a useful tool.

This particular copy of Three Times to Nanjing was transcribed at the West Lake (西湖 xihu) in 1976.

Community center for workers during their leisure hours.

Aided with carefully chosen quotations from the Little Red Book, various Red Guard organizations engaged in violent factional battles during the mass phase of the Cultural Revolution. Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province in southern China, was witness to particularly heavy fights between the opposing factions.

Around 1974, Xu Sanlian 许三连 painted ‘dig deep shelters, store grain’ in Xinxiang prefecture (Xinxiangdiqu 新乡地区). By the late 1960s, early 1970s, air defence shelters were no longer just an urban phenomenon, they had spread to the countryside.

Until today one can find many copies (mostly cheap contemporary reprints) of the Quotations at flea markets and souvenir shops in Shanghai and other popular tourist locations throughout China.

In 1956, the opening ceremony for the newly founded Central Academy for Arts and Crafts (中央工艺美术学院) was held in Mashen Temple (马神庙) in Haidian district. The following year, in 1957, the Academy came under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture and moved to Chaoyang district (朝阳区东三环中路34号).

In 1999, the Central Academy for Arts and Crafts merged with Tsinghua University and was renamed Central Academy for Arts and Design Tsinghua University. It is now located inside Tsinghua University in Haidian.

Zhouzhi County is the place of origin of handloom cloth (tubu 土布).

In November 1956, the Beijing Institute of Applied Physics successfully test China’s first self-made transistor.

Approximate location of the section of the Beijing Underground 'Great Wall' (Beijing dixia changcheng 北京地下长城) former US President Richard Nixon is reported to have visited in 1976.

Designers and carpenters at Tongji University contributed to the domestic discourse on furniture design.

This is the location of the campus on Handan Rd in Shanghai, where Michael Schoenhals spent the academic year 1975/6.

Plans for new brick residential housing on Jiefang Road in Wuhan, Hubei Province were published in Architectural Journal in June 1961 as evidence of unprecedented levels of productivity taking place in the city. Plans and elevations of four distinct, five-story models, each designed to accommodate standardized two-, three-, and four-bedroom units and additional amenities such as light wells and balconies, provide a glimpse of the new socialist reality taking shape through material innovations like more efficient brick production.

Shanghai Cotton Mill, where enamel washbasins served as bathtubs. A port city with a large industrial base, Shanghai has the largest urban population in China.

Yan’an was the capital of the Shaan-Nan-Ging border region, a main Communist base area during the Sino-Japanese War. The first Mao badges were made here in the 1930s and 1940s. Later badges often make reference to Yan’an, through depictions of its characteristic pagoda on a hilltop. [See Source Mao Badges: Revolutionary heritage badge; Source Mao Badges: 9th Congress Mao badge]

Today Shanghai Ancient Bookstore, this is the location of the big second-hand bookshop where Michael Schoenhals purchased a copy of Lu Xun's Collected Works.

This is the location in Beijing that gave its name to the movement of 1978. Here on Xidan Street in the Xicheng District of Beijing, individuals put up posters to express opinions about current political affairs. The term 'democracy wall' can also used to describe other sites used in the same way. For example, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the area near the main student center is called 'democracy wall.'

Peking University and Tsinghua University are regarded as China’s top universities, and are located in the suburbs of Beijing. During the Cultural Revolution, students travelled around the country to exchange 'revolutionary experience.' Here, the interviewee in the oral history describes going to these two universities to copy their big-character posters.

Location of the Peninsula Shanghai off Zhongshan East Road today, this building was formerly used by the Friendship Shop where foreigners could buy daily use items not available elsewhere in Shanghai in the mid-1970s like soft toilet tissues.

This is the location of the Dong'anmen Branch of the Bank of China, where foreigners could exchange currency in 1975/6.

Pi County mural campaign during the Great Leap Forward.

Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square and Tian’anmen rostrum are two of the most important icons in Communist China. The rostrum is frequently depicted on badges [see Mao Badges: Source Revolutionary heritage badge, 9th Congress Mao badge, Mao Zedong and Lin Biao badge].

Tiananmen Square is a large square in the centre of Beijing, named after Tiananmen, a gate to the north of the square, which separates it from the Forbidden City. It contains many important buildings in China, and has been the site of important political events. These include the May Fourth protests in 1919 and the June 4th protests in 1989.

Nanjing was the capital of the Republic of China from 1927, following the conclusion of the Nationalist Party's Northern Expedition (1926-1928) to defeat Chinese warlords and establish national unity. Consequently, the period 1927 to 1937, when the Empire of Japan occupied the city, is referred to as the 'Nanjing Decade'. Under Chiang Kai-shek's rule, the capital was redesigned and hosted foreign residents, highly skilled researchers, financiers and businessmen, and a large number of educated workers and professionals. After 1949, the residents of Nanjing had to be extremely cautious about their actions and speech, as they were living in the capital city of the regime that had directly opposed the Chinese Communist Party.

The precise location of the little shop was on the north side of Huaihai Road, not far from the Jinjiang Hotel. The shop no longer exists.

The Shanghai Wireless Factory was a manufacturer of the some of the best radios during the Mao era.

Dazhai, a rural model village during the Cultural Revolution.

Beijing Zoo's 'popularisation art gallery' features socialist wall painting.

Established on 1 March 1951, the Nanjing Electrical Factory manufactured China’s first radio vacuum tube just over a year later on 20 November 1952.

On 5 December 1949, the Central People’s Radio Station was established in Beijing.

This particular copy of Three Times to Nanjing was transcribed in the center of Licheng in spring 1977.

Location of Xidan Department Store where in 1975 students could purchase bicycles with the help of a cadre.

This was the one post office in Shanghai from where you could send parcels overseas in 1975.

Today only half-an-hour train ride from Beijing, Tianjin is a large port city on the Bohai Sea.

In 1974, Beijing Municipal Timber Industry Research Institute (mucai gongye yanjiusuo 木材工业研究所) in Fengtai District published the Everyday Furniture Drawings Collection (changyong jiaju tuji 常用家具图集).

The central place for political gatherings in the city of Shanghai. Here, the interviewee in the oral history describes putting up his own big-character-poster.

Today Luxun Park, in the mid-1970s it was known as Hongkew Park.

The local Tianjin Daily created a catalogue of Mao quotes arranged according to certain topics which would later constitute the core of the Little Red Book.

Sun Yatsen, China’s founding father, passed away in Beijing on 12 March 1925. He was later buried in the Sun Yatsen Mausoleum in Nanjing.

The 1965 film 'tunnel warfare' was shot in Ranzhuang, which later became a tourist site.

In 1965, Guilin Timber Goods Factory published the Furniture Drawings Collection (家具图集).

On 1 October 1949 the Beijing New China Radio Station broadcasts the ceremony marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Anyuan, site of a miners’ strike, visited by Mao Zedong.

This particular copy of Three Times to Nanjing was then transcribed in Rongcheng [Guangdong] in 1976.

A domestic survey conducted in 1970 revealed no less than 440 local editions of the Quotations existed, some of them published in such remote places as Hohhot in Inner Mongolia.

In autumn 1959, the Ministry of Forestry organised an exhibition of new engineered woods and furniture in the comprehensive wood usage showroom (mucai zonghe liyong zhanlanshi 木材综合利用展览室) on the grounds of the Beijing Timber Mill in Fengtai district.