Big-character posters are handwritten, wall-mounted posters using large-sized Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...
s, 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 1911 revolution. They have also incorporated limited-circulation newspapers, excerpted press articles, and pamphlets intended for public display.
A key trigger in the Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...
was the publication of a dàzìbào on May 25, 1966, by Nie Yuanzi
Nie Yuanzi 聂元梓 is a Chinese academic who taught philosophy at Peking University. She is primarily known for her May 25, 1966 "Big-character poster" criticizing Peking University for being controlled by the "bourgeoise." This was a factor in the Cultural Revolution...
(聂元梓/聶元梓) and others at Peking University
Peking University , colloquially known in Chinese as Beida , is a major research university located in Beijing, China, and a member of the C9 League. It is the first established modern national university of China. It was founded as Imperial University of Peking in 1898 as a replacement of the...
, claiming that the university was controlled by bourgeois anti-revolutionaries. The poster came to the attention of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...
, who had it broadcast nationally and published in the People's Daily
The People's Daily is a daily newspaper in the People's Republic of China. The paper is an organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China , published worldwide with a circulation of 3 to 4 million. In addition to its main Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English,...
. 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
1975 Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The 1975 Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in the midst of the unrest of the Cultural Revolution by the 4th National People's Congress....
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
The Fifth Modernization originally began as a signed wall poster placed by Wei Jingsheng on December 5, 1978 on the Democracy Wall in Beijing.-Summary:...
, whose bold call for democracy brought instant fame to its author, Wei Jingsheng
Wei Jingsheng is a Chinese activist known for his involvement in the Chinese democracy movement, most prominent for authoring the document Fifth Modernization on the "Democracy Wall" in Beijing in 1978. He is generally known for getting arrested and spending 15 years in prison due to the document...
- Propaganda in the People's Republic of ChinaPropaganda in the People's Republic of ChinaPropaganda in the People's Republic of China as interpreted in Western media refers to the Communist Party of China's use of propaganda to sway public and international opinion in favor of its policies. Domestically, this includes censorship of proscribed views and an active cultivation of views...
- Newspapers of the People's Republic of China
- Media in the People's Republic of China