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Mao's Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution

September 18, 2014 – April 26, 2015

Around half a century ago during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), China was in a political “mango-fever.” In 1968, after receiving a gift of mangoes from the visiting Pakistani foreign minister, Mao Zedong sent the fruit to the “Worker-Peasant Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Teams.” It coincided with a turning point in the Cultural Revolution from student-leading to worker-peasant-leading. Mangoes, an unfamiliar fruit at that time in China, became a temporary political symbol of Chairman Mao’s benevolence and love for the people. Illustrations and photos of mangoes appeared in publications, paintings, posters and badges, as well as on everyday objects such as mirrors, quilt covers and enamelware. Wax mango models were displayed in glass boxes to express respect for Mao, along with circumstances of the gift printed in red on the cases. By showcasing over 80 mango-related objects, Mao’s Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution will explore the interaction of material culture and politics during this period.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum Rietberg Zürich and is curated by Alfreda Murck and Alexandra von Przychowski. The China Institute Gallery showing of the exhibition has been expanded to include loans from the Collection of Judy Manton and from an Anonymous Private Collector.

This exhibition is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the generous support of China Institute Friends of the Gallery and Sponsors of the Exhibition.*

Poster, 1968, color printing on paper,
53 x 68.3 cm, courtesy of Museum Rietberg Zürich

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China Institute Gallery Press Release

China Institute Gallery Large Print Didactics


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Gallery Hours:

Monday - Sunday 10am - 5pm
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