Red Bright and Shining
Mao Zedong, former leader of Communist China, is still revered by some in China as a demigod. Despite the brutality, suffering, and cultural devastation that occurred during his reign, Mao’s romanticized image still looms large in Chinese culture. Mao’s image and texts permeated every aspect of life in China during the Cultural Revolution. It is estimated that over 4 billion portraits of Mao were made between 1966 and 1976. His face appeared in schools, government buildings, street signs, wall murals, and in shrines within private homes.
Depictions of Mao were carefully crafted. He could be presented as the benevolent father, great teacher and philosopher, brave military leader, or wise statesman. However, he always had to be painted “red, bright and shining.” His face was typically colored in reddish, warm hues radiating light. Surrounding his head is often a halo or glow with his followers basking in his illumination.