Book Chapter

Disappearing from the picture? Female Figures in Pattern Books of the Mao Years

Antonia Finnane

The Oxford Handbook of Communist Visual Cultures | Oxford University Press | Published : 2020


This article explores a lesser known source of graphic images of male and female figures produced during the early decades of the People’s Republic of China. Propaganda posters, stage performances, and cinema suggest a high level of visibility for women in Mao’s China. In contrast, how-to-sew manuals and pattern books, which in Japan, Western countries, and even the Eastern Bloc were dominated by images of women and designs of clothing for them, in China show an overwhelming preponderance of designs for men’s clothing, and graphic drawings of the male figure. The main exceptions were privately authored manuals produced in the early 1950s, preceding socialist transformation. The article argue..

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