Character posters

Big-character poster

Big-character posters (Traditional Chinese 大字報, Simplified Chinese 大字报, pinyin dàzìbào, literally "big-character journal") 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 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 was the publication of a dazibao on May 25, 1966, by Nie Yuanzi (聂元梓) 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. 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 dazibao.

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.

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