Chinese Poster Project – Betterment

Ted Heckard

A New Robe

In this poster a rather disheveled man is seen wearing a robe styled with various evil virtues such as malice and greed. Next to him a more pristine-looking man is seen wearing clothes stylized with good virtues such as kindness and love. In front of the Holy Cross appears the robes displaying evil virtues, evidently removed from the pristine person. The two robes appear to symbolize the virtues inherent with both people, and the evil robes being left in front of the Holy Cross symbolizes that the teachings of Christianity played a role in removing said evil virtues from the person. There appears to be an absence of more Chinese symbolism in favor of Christian symbolism in the poster. The framing of the poster makes it a little ambiguous in whether or not the two people in the poster are two distinct people, or possibly the same person both before and after their turning to Christianity. This poster appears to use a more traditional style of Chinese art, which likely helped appeal to the Chinese masses at the time. In all the overall message of the poster seems to be that turning to Christianity will remove all the negative aspects of your being, allowing you to live a better life, as the quality of life between the two people appeared to change after the robes were changed. This seems to have been a popular idea within China, as many other posters sport the same sort of meaning behind them, some even almost directly copying this poster. The popularity of this poster likely meant it was rather effective in China as well. While some of the virtues used in the poster might not make as much sense, the overall idea of Christianity benefiting one's life is an almost universal idea used by many other cultures at various times. The only question that can be asked about this poster is how does the changing of robes actually happen? How does Christianity help to better one's life?

Assurance and the Testimony Meeting

In this poster a young man can be seen reading a pamphlet to a mass of people, stating that "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire." The young man is also seen pointing down at the pit in the bottom of the poster as he's doing so. Everyone gathered around him seems to be listening to him with enthusiasm. The pit in the poster is likely either a symbol for the depravity one falls into without Christianity in their lives, or also Hell itself. What the man himself is saying is also symbolic, as he's directly quoting the Bible with what he's saying. As well, in this quote "He" could also be a direct reference to God, as he's often referred to as "He." However there does seem to be a lack of obvious Christian imagery, such as any image of Jesus Christ or the Holy Cross. The poster appears to be framed in a way that makes the pit in the bottom of the poster appear bottomless, which could be further symbolized as the idea of unending suffering for not following the ways of Christianity. While the poster seems to have been done in a more traditional artstyle, the poster has a more modern aesthetic to it, with everyone in the poster wearing more modern kinds of clothing. Because of all the established symbolism above, the overall message of this poster appears to be that through the help of God and Christianity, the young man was able to get out of the pit of depravity. This poster appears to be one in a series of posters, all of which deal with man being trapped in the pit and eventually being helped out of it thanks to Christianity. The main thing that's surprising about the poster is the overall lack of obvious Christian imagery, which is popular in most other kinds of Christian art. This type of meaning would make sense in most other cultural contexts because its almost directly referencing an event from the Bible. For those who haven't read the Bible or other parts of the series though, this poster likely won't make a lot of sense. One question that can be raised for this poster is where did the man that helped the young man out of the pit go afterwards?

Be Not Deceived

In this poster two farmers can be seen tending to a field with the help of an ox. The wording on the poster states that a man reaps what he sows, and if he sows trouble he will eventually receive the same. It also states that if one sows from the flesh they will only reap corruption, but if they sow from the spirit they will reap eternal life. Due to the wording of the poster, it could be thought that the field that the farmers are tending to is in fact a person's life. A lot of the usual Christian imagery found in Christian art seems to be missing from the poster, as well as a lot of symbolism in general, with the poster mainly relying on the text on it to tell the reader what its meaning is. The poster is framed with the text on the poster directly surrounding the image on the poster itself, which could potentially be symbolic of God being all around us. This poster seems to make use of a very simplistic and traditional artstyle, as not many specific details can be made out in the picture. Thanks to the text directly telling us, the overall meaning of the poster seems to be that one most be careful of what they sow, and if they sow purely for their own gain they will become corrupted, but if they sow for the good of others and God they will reap eternal life. This poster seems a little bit unusual compared to others due to the rather heavy reliance on text in it. Another aspect that's unusual about the poster is the very distinct lack of Christian imagery, which is very common in most other kinds of Christian art. This poster would likely not make much sense outside of an Asian culture as the overall idea of it was not something that was culturally common outside of Asia itself. The poster is likely not as effective as it could be because it relies a lot on textual information, so those who could not actually read would not be able to get almost any sort of understanding of the poster itself. A question that could be raised about this poster is what does it specifically mean by "sowing trouble," as trouble is a rather vague term to use.

Theme - Betterment

The three posters here were chosen because together they represent an overarching theme of betterment; that by following the teachings of Christianity one would be able to elevate himself from depravity and damnation to a more harmonious, eternally happy life. The first two posters show why one should try to elevate one’s life, to make their overall quality of life better and to save themselves from damnation in Hell. The third poster says more accurately how one should do so, by living a more pious life just for the sake of being pious, not for one’s own benefit as that will lead to corruption. These posters overall appear to give a concise reason for why people should want to follow Christianity, however some of the more finer reasons for why would probably be lost to the illiterate, mainly due to the reliance of text in certain places, which would still lead them to question what the actual reasons for following Christianity would be and how it would help them. Together these posters show the reader why one should consider following Christianity and how one would actually do so. In the end though one question still remains, why is it that only Christianity can lead people on this certain path, instead of possibly other religions of philosophies as well? Why is Christianity the chosen religion to save people instead of, say, Buddhism or Islam? What sets Christianity apart from these other religions?

Posted by Ted Heckard