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March 3, 2013

Rare Color Photos of Chinese Operas During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s

Zhang Yaxin, a photographer of Xinhua News Agency, was entrusted with a lofty and important task in those years (1960s and '70s): shooting the model operas, the political significance of which went far beyond its photographic significance.

Model operas took up more than ten years in Chinese people’s cultural life. Therefore, the stills of model operas were considered as the classic visual images, widely copied for numerous times, or adapted to become a wide variety of handicrafts, such as posters, stamps, posters on the match boxes, decorative ceramics, etc.

Due to the wide spread use of those images, model operas were engraved deeply in China’s history. The numerous copies of a physical image in such a wide range itself implied the strategy of promoting popular culture. However, at that time, such promotion had only one purpose, that was to appeal for the idealistic revolutionary ideology.

(© Zhang Yaxin, via Trans Asia Photography Review)


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