Sunday, April 12, 2009

This just had to be said

In the course of scrambling to finish up my MA, I have had the pleasure of reading some bomb-ass primary documents that, alas, have no direct bearing on my research but simply must be shared with you, the reader.

And I quote:


Regarding the question of hanging the portraits of our leaders, the Central Authorities made a clear ruling as early as March 29, 1960 (Reference No. [60] 289): "In the organizations for the Party, the People's Liberation Army and the people's associations of various kinds, it is permitted to hang the portrait of Mao Tse-tung [Mao Zedong] alone; it is also permitted to hang the portrait of Mao Tse-tung, Liu Shao-chi [Liu Shaoqi], Chou En-lai [Zhou Enlai], Chu Te [Zhu De], Chen Yun, Lin Piao [Lin Biao], Teng Hsiao-ping [Deng Xiaoping], seven persons." The manner of hanging these portraits is: if it is desirable to hang the seven portraits of Mao, Liu, Chou, Chu, Chen, Lin, Teng together, the port art of Mao Tse-tung can be placed in the center and the others on the two sides. It is also suitable to put the portrait of Mao Tse-tung in the first place and the others in order as indicated, and from left to right. According to our understanding there are now not a few units, especially the primary level units, which have not hung the portraits as described above. We are asking these units to inspect carefully the way in which these instructions have been carried out so that we may have a unified system according to the regulations of the Central Authorities.
General Political Department
March 14, 1961

Courtesy of J. Chester Cheng's The Politics of the Red Army (Stanford: Hoover Institute Publications, 1966) 360.

PS Damn that Wade-Giles is hard to figure out sometimes. Chinese historians have to learn that, pinyin, traditional characters, simplified characters, and then some foreign languages. Thank god I do not have to do that.

PPS Do any of you have any similar funny ass things you have found while doing research? I cannot wait until the State Department documents declassify in twenty-five years and I have to read about just how many inches apart Bush and Cheney pictures must be hung.


  1. I think that governments, economies, entire societies change but bureaucracy is the great constant in history. Seems like there was always a guy with a clipboard somewhere explaining why your tribute to the emperor had to be loaded into the right side of the wagon not the left.

    On the other side of it, I found those primary source distractions to be AT LEAST as valuable to my education as the actual dissertation writing itself. I still trip off the Harlem preacher who burned down his own church during the Great Depression trying to get the insurance money...

  2. Ha, good point.

    Where the hell did you find THAT source? There is no way he wrote that in his diary...