Big-character poster

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A modern dàzìbào-style slogan on a Chinese factory

Big-character posters (simplified Chinese: 大字报; traditional Chinese: 大字報; pinyin: dàzìbào; Wade–Giles: ta4-tzu4-pao4; literally: "big-character reports") are handwritten, wall-mounted posters using large-sized Chinese characters, used as a means of protest, propaganda, and popular communication. They have been used in China since imperial times, but became more common when literacy rates rose after the Xinhai Revolution. They have also incorporated limited-circulation newspapers, excerpted press articles, and pamphlets intended for public display.

A key trigger in the Cultural Revolution was the publication of a dàzìbào on 25 May 1966, by Nie Yuanzi (聂元梓/聶元梓) and others at Peking University, claiming that the university was controlled by bourgeois anti-revolutionaries. The poster came to the attention of Mao Zedong, who had it broadcast nationally and published in the People's Daily. Dazibao became a crucial tool in Mao's struggle during the Cultural Revolution, and Mao himself wrote his own dazibao at Beijing University on 5 August 1966, calling on the people to "Bombard the Headquarters".[1] Big-character posters were soon ubiquitous, used for everything from sophisticated debate to satirical entertainment to rabid denunciation; being attacked in a big-character poster was enough to end one's career. One of the "four great rights" in the 1975 state constitution was the right to write dàzìbào.

Big-character posters sprouted again during the Democracy Wall movement, starting in 1978; one of the most famous was "The Fifth Modernization", whose bold call for democracy brought instant fame to its author, Wei Jingsheng.

See also


  1. ^ Lincoln Cushing; Ann Tompkins (2007). Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Chronicle Books. p. 5. ISBN 978-0811859462. 
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