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Meals with Mao

Fri, March 17, 10:30am to 12:30pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Floor: 2nd Floor, Wentworth

Abstract

Whether in the Great Hall of the People or in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, relatively few people were privileged to dine with Mao Zedong. But through the Mao era, especially during the last decade of his life, Mao was an inescapable presence at meals. His image was on the wall; many families recited quotations from Chairman Mao before meals; porcelain and enamel ware were printed with the thought of Mao Zedong as well as messages of the accomplishments of the Chinese Communist Party. One interesting example on trays and mugs shows Sun Wukong beating the White-boned Demon from the popular novel Journey to the West. In the early 1960s Mao Zedong and Guo Moruo exchanged poems on the theme with the implication that Monkey was a figure for Mao and the demon represented Rightists and Revisionists. Later the White-boned Demon was equated with Jiang Qing (Madam Mao) and the theme indicated the successful demise of the Gang of Four. This paper will track slogans, admonitions, and pictures on consumer ceramics and enamel ware of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s to show how they represented the corresponding political movements of the day.

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