Hist 241 Chinese Christianity Poster Project

Jason Ma

Jesus will bring a new China

The poster shows that people in blue just won a fight against those in black. Those in black are fleeing away with flags full of negative words, including “sins,” “atrocity” and so on. However people in blue are chasing them and holding their flags with positive words, including “Christian life,” “freedom” and “truth.” Jesus also stands with those in blue. Moreover, there is also a flag in the back saying “new China.” The poster is heavily graph based with few words. Even though it indicates what Christianity can give to you, there are no explanations about how to be a Christian. This poster delivers a message that Christianity is the best way to reform China, it gives people an idea of how good life can be if you are a Christian. Generally, this poster is not unusual, since there are many other posters with similar elements indicating that Christianity is the only hope for China to reform. However, what surprises me is that, at the bottom left of the poster. It says “Each poster costs four RMB.” At first, I didn’t think merchants use the posters to gain profits at that time. I thought they were willing to print the posters because of their belief. The poster was found around the 1940s. China had just gone through WWII, so I believe that people were eager to rebuild their country after having contacts with the Westerns. They might think that the Westerners are strong because of their belief. After all, comparing with other posters, I don’t think this poster is really effective, because the poster doesn’t tell people what Christianity is. After seeing the poster, people might be still confused. Yet, it is still a great poster to show that Jesus can build a new China with truth, freedom and bravery.

Christianity gives you purpose of life

The poster showed people what your purposes are in your life. At the middle, there is a Chinese map with words saying “China belongs to God.” The poster contains many elements including lots of graphs and words. However, the poster doesn’t have guidelines about Christianity. The message of the poster is to show people as a Christian what you should do on a daily basis. For example, at the bottom left, the sentence means “If you don’t work hard, you shouldn’t eat.” Notably, the poster is unusual, since I didn’t find any other poster telling what a Christian should do every day. Even though it is a great and convincing poster, I don’t think it is effective. The words it used are in commanding tones, and there are many “must,” “should” and “have to.” I wouldn’t follow what the poster says since I feel that someone commend me to following it. That’s also why I don’t think the poster works well in another cultural context. Overall, the design of the poster is convincing but the words it used it not effective in my opinion.

Death is not the end for Christians

The poster shows that a man is dying but he is praying to God, then many angels come to welcome him into heaven. His families are also praying for him right by his bed. There is a photo above his bed showing that the man might be a cleric or missionary. I can also see that this man is wealthy because of the decoration of his home. He might also be highly educated because of the books on his shelf. The poster is pure graph without any codes, words or numbers, but it makes the poster even more accessible to understand. The message of the poster is that being a Christian, you can be wealthy; you can be highly educated; you can have a fortunate family; and you will not be afraid of death since a better world will be waiting for you. I found many other posters with the same idea on; they all inform people that death is not the end of Christians. So the poster is not unusual. I think the poster is really effective and can also be used in another cultural context. Undeniably, humans are afraid of death. Leaving the world might be a harsh idea for everyone to think about. The poster shows that we shouldn’t be afraid of death, because there is a better world called heaven awaits us. Even though there are no explanations in words, it is still convincing. I believe around the 1950s, this poster could turn many Chinese into believing Christianity.

General analysis of the three posters

I selected these three posters because they were all created near the same time period, around 1945 – 1955. Clearly, they have different styles, different contents and even different purposes. They are also related: Poster 1 shows that why you need to be a Christian; poster 2 shows that what you should do every day as a Christian; and poster 3 shows the good ending you can have as a Christian. When I put these posters together, a question came out: How can people know the guidelines of being Christians. I doubt that people barely know how to be a Christian at that time in China, especially low educated people. When I went through the poster galleries, I only found a few posters taught people how to be Christian and what Christianity truly means. Therefore, I think people need to be fully aware of Christianity before they become Christians. If I am the one seeing these posters, I would be really confused, because I truly want to be a Christian, but no one teaches me how to do so.

Posted by Jason Ma

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