Great and Noble Image
Originally published in:
Chinese Literature 1968, n. 9, pp. 41-47
A "discussion by revolutionary miners and cadres of the Pinghsiang Mining Administration who have been attending a national coal mining conference in Peking" about Liu Chunhua's painting/poster 'Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan'.
Chia Chih-pu (Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Anyuan Coal Mine): On the 47th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, we Anyuan miners are very much excited and overjoyed to see this revolutionary painting, showing the bright image of Chairman Mao, the red sun in our hearts, in a blue cotton gown, an old umbrella in his hand - the way he came to our mine 47 years ago. This painting is a paean to Chairman Mao's revolutionary line!
It was our great leader Chairman Mao who blazed the trail for the Anyuan workers' movement, who personally initiated and led the big strike in Anyuan which shook China and the whole world. Just as the painting shows, our beloved and respected Chairman Mao walked over rugged terrain along the railway and arrived in Anyuan in the days of revolutionary storm as early as in the autumn of 1921. The day after his arrival, Chairman Mao visited coal pits, repair shops, the coal dressing plant, the foundry and the places where the miners lived and ate. Wherever he went, he chatted with us miners and
explained the revolution to us. He taught us to unite as one and to struggle against the capitalists. He said we should overthrow the three big mountains - imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism - weighing down on us and build a new world in which we are the masters. Every word and every sentence Chairman Mao said were impressed upon our hearts and our minds were illuminated by his thought. Some old miners composed a folk rhyme, warmly singing the praise of Chairman Mao:
It was not until the year 1921,
That the clouds scattered and we saw the sun.
From Hunan Province came a great man,
Mao Tse-tung himself came to our mine.
He talked so kindly to us miners,
Pointing out that we could seek liberation.
Set up unions, he firmly urged,
Toiling workers should unite as one.
His words warmed our very hearts,
We were reluctant to see him go.
In an attempt to restore capitalism, China's Khrushchov and his henchmen viciously distorted the revolutionary history of Anyuan and stood the facts on their heads. Through reactionary films, reminiscences and paintings, they tried to puff up China's Khrushchov by describing the Anyuan workers' movement led by Chairman Mao as his contribution and extolled this scab and renegade as a "leader" of the workers' movement.
Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan is the first revolutionary oil painting representing the real history of Chairman Mao's leadership of China's workers' movement. It is a striking portrait of Chairman Mao and reflects the ardent love we miners have for our great leader. It is a slap in the face to China's Khrushchov and those who tampered with history.
Li Kai-lu (Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Pinghsiang Mining Administration): This painting expresses what is in the hearts of the revolutionary miners and cadres in our Pinghsiang Administration. We feel particularly fond of it.
Chairman Mao first came to Anyuan in the autumn of 1921, not long after the first National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. In those days, under the oppression and exploitation of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic-capitalism, Anyuan was in an abyss of darkness. At this crucial moment, Chairman Mao came on foot, making his way step by step along the railway. Shouldering the task of China's revolution and with great confidence in the world revolution, our, great leader came. He lit the sparks of revolution in every coal pit and left his footprints in every corner of Anyuan. Chairman Mao's arrival in Anyuan was a turning-point in the history of the workers' movement which has since advanced to victory. His coming was indeed a great historical event which this painting faithfully records. The painting is a victory for Chairman Mao's revolutionary line. Before this magnificent oil painting, how ignominious are the reactionary film Plains Ablaze and those evil paintings which blew China's Khrushchov's trumpet! We miners clap our hands and hail this revolutionary painting that sparkles with Mao Tse-tung's thought.
The painting depicts Chairman Mao's noble figure in his youth. There comes Chairman Mao clad in an old blue gown and shod in cloth shoes, an umbrella under his right arm and his left fist clenched, gazing ahead with revolutionary resolution and firm determination. It reflects Chairman Mao's indomitable revolutionary will, his fortitude and heroism. Chairman Mao's nobility as portrayed in the painting inspires us with his dauntless spirit of daring to struggle and to win and of fearing no hardship in working for the emancipation of mankind and the victory of the proletarian revolution. It shows us Chairman Mao's revolutionary working style of hard work and plain living - and of keeping in close contact with the masses. Chairman Mao stands out in the painting like a pillar supporting the sky, making us feel that in following Chairman Mao, the revolution is bound to be victorious and the world will be red. It is a precious record of an historical event and a revolutionary textbook. It inspires us and makes us feel full of enthusiasm.
Su Yuan-tung (a veteran coal miner of Anyuan): The painting shows Chairman Mao's inspiring likeness and his revolutionary working
style of hard work and simple living. It moves us very much and makes us feel particularly close to him.
In those days of hard revolutionary struggle, the Anyuan coal mine was a hell where imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic-capitalism co-operated to suck the blood of the miners. The miners then led a life worse than beasts of burden, toiling over 14 hours a day in the narrow and damp coal pits. They were often abused and flogged and suffered from hunger and cold. They lived a life of torment, eating pig's feed and huddled together at night in cattle sheds. When illness or old age overtook them they would be driven out and had to beg for their food. I myself had to go out and beg once. Under the oppression of the three big mountains, the miners could hardly breathe and words cannot describe the miserable life they led. The workers had a folk rhyme which described our hard life:
In youth they go down the coal pit;
In old age begging is their fate.
When illness comes, out they go,
They die in a way no better than dogs.
In the midst of our suffering Chairman Mao, the red sun in our hearts, arrived in Anyuan. He explained the revolution to us and told us that we miners were suffering not because it was our "fate" but because of oppression and exploitation by imperialism and capitalists. Chairman Mao told us we should get organized and united as one, work like a powerful fist to overthrow the big mountains weighing down on us. Chairman Mao's words lit our hearts and we miners who were called black colliers were awakened. Following Chairman Mao's lead, we waged uncompromising struggles against the Kuomintang reactionaries and capitalists and finally overthrew the three big mountains. We who were no better than cattle in the old society have become the masters of the country.
When we contrast the new with the old, we feel that dear as our parents are to us still dearer is Chairman Mao. We veteran miners are resolved to be thoroughly loyal to the great leader Chairman Mao, the great thought of Mao Tse-tung and his revolutionary line and follow him for ever in making revolution. We are resolved to right the distortion of historical facts by China's Khrushchov.
Chia Teh-ping (Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the fourth coal extraction section of the Kaokeng Coal Mine): When Chairman Mao came to Anyuan that year, he visited the miners in their sheds and went down the pits with them to understand their bitter conditions. It was he who roused their class consciousness. A veteran miner told me that the sight of the umbrella under Chairman Mao's arm in the painting brought to his mind how Chairman Mao arrived in Anyuan in those days with straw sandals over his worn cloth shoes and how he immediately called a mass meeting of miners.
Chairman Mao in his twenties traversed mountains and crossed rivers to go to Anyuan to sow the seeds of revolution. He led the miners in the fight against the feudal power and capitalists, lit the flame in Anyuan and later led some of the revolutionary miners to the Chingkang mountains, China's first revolutionary base, thus combining the workers' movement with the peasant movement. From Chingkang mountains to Yenan, and from Yenan to Peking, the revolution eventually advanced to victory. That was how we were liberated from a sea off bitterness and have become the masters of the nation. This painting moved me to tears. For we were poor miners' children who ran cold and hungry all over the place. If Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party had not led our fathers in making revolution, how could we have our life today?
Chairman Mao taught us: "All our literature and art are for the masses of the people, and in the first place for the workers, peasants and soldiers; they are created for the workers, peasants and soldiers and are for their use." The artists have vividly portrayed Chairman Mao's noble image and expressed what is in the hearts of us miners.
Wang Hou-fu (a veteran miner who is now Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chuyuan Coal Mine): We coal miners have been longing for such paintings as Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan, which depicts true revolutionary history. This painting shows Chairman Mao in his youth striding head high into the storm and stress of the age to lead us Anyuan miners in making revolution with no fear of the white terror of imperialism, feudalism and the
reactionary ruling circles. It inspires and encourages us very much and deals a heavy blow at China's Khrushchov who tampered with history.
In the past, Chou Yang and other counter-revolutionaries in the field of literature and art did not allow workers, peasants and soldiers to paint portraits of Chairman Mao saying that we were unable to achieve a good likeness of him. Oil paintings were used solely to propagate feudal and bourgeois characters and ideas.
In the cultural revolution revolutionary literary and art workers, in line with Chairman Mao's teaching that literature and art should serve the workers, peasants and soldiers, have smashed this counterrevolutionary line on literature and art. Following Chairman Mao's teaching "make the past serve the present and foreign things serve China," they dare to make revolution, make innovations and are using oil painting, a foreign medium, to serve us workers, peasants and soldiers and proletarian politics. This is a valuable achievement which deserves our attention. We find this oil painting which brims over with revolutionary spirit and national flavour very much to our liking.
Yu Mei-sheng (a veteran miner who is now a leading member of the production office of the Pinghsiang coal mines): This oil painting has tremendous topical significance as well as historic significance. In the short course of two years during the cultural revolution the young revolutionaries, with revolutionary workers, have already rectified the history of the Anyuan workers' movement that was perverted in the past. They have begun to reflect this historical event through revolutionary art. We are very happy and proud to see this good beginning.
We should learn from the ardent political fervour and fearless revolutionary spirit of these revolutionary art fighters. With great love for Chairman Mao and a clear-cut proletarian stand, they dare to think, to breakthrough and to win. They dare to scorn the reactionary "authorities," to break all trammels and challenge those reactionary "authorities" with their brush. By using their paint and brush to depict Chairman Mao like this, the young artists are serving the workers,
peasants and soldiers and fighting for Chairman Mao's revolutionary line. They deserve to be called red artists reared by Chairman Mao. It was Comrade Chiang Ching who has resolutely carried out Chairman Mao's line on literature and art and, leading the proletarian revolutionaries, has personally guided the production of eight model revolutionary theatrical works. This time she has given her attention to guide the creation of the piano music The Red Lantern with peking opera singing and the oil painting Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan. We workers are very happy to see that new shoots are budding in the garden of proletarian literature and art. More new flowers, nourished by the sunlight and dew of Mao Tse-tung's thought and under the care of Comrade Chiang Ching, will blossom in this garden.