Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China

March 18, 2007

Mao badges

Continuing the theme of my last post, I came across this online collection of Mao badges.  In his blog, the collector says:

I buy a bunch every time I go to China, adding them to the ones I started wearing as a teenager in the late 1960s.

There are two interesting points here. 

i)  he adds to his collection each time he goes to China.  It’s got to be assumed, therefore, that a large proportion are reproductions;

ii) he began collecting and wearing the badges as a teenager in the 60s.  This is really interesting, because, for my research, I am collecting examples of the contemporaeous appropriation of CultRev material culture in the West.

As I suggested in my last post, reproductions of CultRev material culture satisfy a ready market for revolutionary ‘exotica’.  Presumably much of this is purchased by tourists and collectors outside China (though, of course, there are examples of Chinese collectors – see Jennifer Hubbert’s paper – though it appears that they collect for very different reasons than Westerners).  But does it really matter if the objects they purchase are genuine artefacts or not?  I suppose, so long as they haven’t been mislead, it doesn’t.   But a quick look at Ebay suggests that some sellers of supposedly genuine CultRev material are less than scrupulous.

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