Icons of Revolution:
Mao badges then and now

10 April – 14 September 2008

Exhibition closed

Room 69a

The Asahi Shimbun Displays
Objects in focus

Supported by

Five billion badges were made in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). This movement was intended to overhaul the ‘old’ ideology, but brought extreme politics and chaos into everyday life. Badges were worn as part of the everyday dress code, and as an expression of loyalty to Chairman Mao and the Communist Party of China.

Most of the badges bear a portrait of Mao. Some refer to scenes from his life, political events, his speeches, writings and poetry. Symbols of international Communism also feature alongside traditional Chinese designs on the badges and in other media. In China today, Mao badges are still collected, and the imagery of the Cultural Revolution continues to be used in many different ways.

The objects in the display include badges, posters, books and currency from the 1930s to the present day.

Further information

Read more information about a Chairman Mao badge
Read the full press release
Research publication on the Chairman Mao badges

Badge depicting Mao, based on a famous painting by Liu Chunhua

Badge depicting Mao, based on a famous painting by Liu Chunhua.