chineseposters.net
home | gallery | themes | "too many books" | artists | resources | reprints | about | contact

New Year Prints (and chubby babies) Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Dragons rise over the Divine Land, 1985

Dragons rise over the Divine Land, 1985

A truly striking use of the trope of the chubby baby can be seen in one particular set of modern chubby baby posters, published in 1988. What is remarkable in this set is the mixture of traditional elements and auspicious formula with modern, more or less abstract symbols of power, a combination that is obviously accepted unquestioningly by the targeted consumers. They form quite a contrast with the image above.

Four treasures (1) The lucky star shines bright, 1988

Four treasures (1) The lucky star shines bright, 1988

Four treasures (2) Glorious universe, 1988

Four treasures (2) Glorious universe, 1988

The political symbols range from the images of Marx and Engels, the 'founding fathers' of socialism, to the emblem of the State (Tiananmen), the 'logo' of the CCP (hammer and sickle), and the symbol of the nation (five yellow stars on a red background). After the adoption of the Reform policies, these elements have been used in all sorts of visual materials that propagated adherence to some durable, political norm, thus clearly establishing a link between the behavior sought and the organization that originated that norm.

Four treasures (3) The country is prosperous and the people live in peace, 1988

Four treasures (3) The country is prosperous and the people live in peace, 1988

Four treasures (4) The whole nation joins in jubilation, 1988

Four treasures (4) The whole nation joins in jubilation, 1988

The decline in artistic standards and designing abilities also has had an effect on the quality of the chubby baby posters that have been published in the last fifteen years. The evocative and playful image below, which may have contributed to the desire of China's current taikonauts to become involved with the space program, was published in the early 1970s. A more contemporary look at space travel is provided by the image below. Published in 1985, it does succeed in giving a more accurate impression of the space suit needed for trips in outer space, but at the same time, it lacks the sparkle and playfulness of the earlier poster.

Little guests in the Moon Palace, early 1970s

Little guests in the Moon Palace, early 1970s

A garden in outer space, 1985

A garden in outer space, 1985

But it can get even worse. The poster below, published in 1990, still uses the traditional auspicious symbols, but has done away with the chubby baby altogether.

Young explorers, 1988

Young explorers, 1988

Bid farewell to the old year, welcome the new spring, 1990

Bid farewell to the old year, welcome the new spring, 1990

More posters featuring chubby babies:


Links:

Chinese woodblock prints: Nianhua, zhima, fu external link: A selection from the A. E. Maia do Amaral collection

The Nianhua Gallery external link, by James A. Flath (University of Western Ontario)

Sources:

James A. Flath, The Cult of Happiness - Nianhua, Art, and History in Rural North China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004)

Iris Wachs and Chang Tsong-zung, Half a Century of Chinese Woodblock Prints external link, 1999

Wang Shucun (ed.), Ancient Chinese Woodblock New Year Prints (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1985)



Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Search website:


Reprints:
You can order high quality reprints of most posters featured on this website at chinesepostershop.com. Just follow the link in the right sidebar of each individual poster page.



Share: