Four Olds

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A 1968 map of Beijing showing streets and landmarks renamed during the Cultural Revolution. "Andingmenneidajie" (Stability Gate Inner Street) became "Dayuejinlu" (Great Leap Forward Road), "Taijichangdajie" (Taiji Factory Street) became "Yonggelu" (Perpetually Ousting Road), "Dongjiaominxiang" (East Cross People Lane) was renamed "Fandilu" (Anti-Imperialist Road), "Beihaigongyuan" (North Sea Park) was renamed "Gongnongbinggongyuan" (Worker-Peasant-Soldier Park) and "Jingshangongyuan" (View Mountain Park) became "Hongweibinggongyuan" (Red Guard Park). Most of the Cultural Revolution-era name changes were later reversed. Beijing 1968 I.jpg
A 1968 map of Beijing showing streets and landmarks renamed during the Cultural Revolution. "Āndìngménnèidàjiē" (Stability Gate Inner Street) became "Dàyuèjìnlù" (Great Leap Forward Road), "Táijīchǎngdàjiē" (Táijī Factory Street) became "Yǒnggélù" (Perpetually Ousting Road), "Dōngjiāomínxiàng" (East Cross People Lane) was renamed "Fǎndìlù" (Anti-Imperialist Road), "Běihǎigōngyuán" (North Sea Park) was renamed "Gōngnóngbīnggōngyuán" (Worker-Peasant-Soldier Park) and "Jǐngshāngōngyuán" (View Mountain Park) became "Hóngwèibīnggōngyuán" (Red Guard Park). Most of the Cultural Revolution-era name changes were later reversed.

The Four Olds or the Four Old Things (simplified Chinese :四旧; traditional Chinese :四舊; pinyin :sì jiù) was a term used during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–76 in the People's Republic of China to refer to the attempts of Communists to destroy elements of Chinese culture pre-communism. The Four Olds were: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. [1] The campaign to destroy the Four Olds began in Beijing on August 19, 1966, shortly after the launch of the Cultural Revolution. [2]

Simplified Chinese characters standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Contents

Terminology

The term "four olds" first appeared on June 1, 1966, in Chen Boda's People's Daily editorial, "Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons", where the Old Things were described as anti-proletarian, "fostered by the exploiting classes, [and to] have poisoned the minds of the people for thousands of years". [3] However, which customs, cultures, habits, and ideas specifically constituted the "Four Olds" were never clearly defined. [4]

Chen Boda, was a secretary to Mao Zedong and a prominent member of the radical leadership during the Cultural Revolution, chairing the Cultural Revolution Group.

<i>Peoples Daily</i> daily newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

The People's Daily is the biggest newspaper group in China. The paper is an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, published worldwide with a circulation of 3 million. In addition to its main Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Tibetan, Kazakh, Uyghur, Zhuang, Mongolian, and other minority languages in China. The newspaper provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the Communist Party.

On August 8, the Central Committee used the term at its 8th National Congress. The term was endorsed on August 18 by Lin Biao at a mass rally, and from there it spread to Red Flag magazine, as well as to Red Guard publications. [4]

Central Committee of the Communist Party of China political body that comprises the top leaders of the Communist Party of China

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is a political body that comprises the top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is currently composed of 205 full members and 171 alternate members. Members are nominally elected once every five years by the unicameral National Congress of the Communist Party of China, though, in practice the selection process is done privately, and exclusively by the party's Politburo and its corresponding Standing Committee. The members have no essential decision making power. They ceremonially exercise their voting, to provide evidence to the nation that a decision has been made by the people.

Lin Biao Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China

Lin Biao was a Marshal of the People's Republic of China who was pivotal in the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, especially in Northeast China. Lin was the general who commanded the decisive Liaoshen and Pingjin Campaigns, in which he co-led the Manchurian Field Army to victory and led the People's Liberation Army into Beijing. He crossed the Yangtze River in 1949, decisively defeated the Kuomintang and took control of the coastal provinces in Southeast China. He ranked third among the Ten Marshals. Zhu De and Peng Dehuai were considered senior to Lin, and Lin ranked directly ahead of He Long and Liu Bocheng.

<i>Red Flag</i> (magazine) Chinese magazine

The Red Flag was a theoretical political journal published by the Chinese Communist Party. It was one of the "Two Newspapers and One Magazine"(两报一刊) during the 1960s and 1970s. The newspapers were People's Daily and Guangming Daily. People's Liberation Army Daily is also regarded as one of them.

Calls to destroy the "Four Olds" usually did not appear in isolation, but were contrasted with the hope of building the "Four News" (new customs, new culture, new habits, new ideas). [4] The idea that Chinese culture was responsible for China's economic backwardness and needed to be reformed had some precedent in the May Fourth Movement (1919), and was also encouraged by colonial authorities during the Japanese occupation of China. [5]

Chinese culture Asian culture

Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in East Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between provinces, cities, and even towns as well. With China being one of the earliest ancient civilizations, Chinese culture is extremely diverse and varying, and it has a profound effect in the philosophy, virtue, etiquette and traditions of Asia to date.

May Fourth Movement 1919 Chinese protests against the countrys concessions in the Treaty of Versailles

The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student participants in Beijing on 4 May 1919. They protested against the Chinese government's weak responses to the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles, especially it allowing Japan to receive territories in Shandong, which had been surrendered by Germany after the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914. China had fallen victim to the expansionist policies of the Empire of Japan, which had conquered large areas of Chinese-controlled territory with the support of France, the UK, and the US. This was finalized at the Treaty of Versailles. The demonstrations sparked national protests and marked an upsurge of Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization and away from cultural activities, and a move towards a populist base rather than intellectual elites. Many of the radical political and social leaders of the next two decades emerged at this time.

Campaign

The remains of Ming Dynasty Wanli Emperor at the Ming tombs. Red Guards dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and Empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned. Wanlitod.jpg
The remains of Ming Dynasty Wanli Emperor at the Ming tombs. Red Guards dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and Empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned.

The campaign to Destroy the Four Olds and Cultivate the Four News (Chinese:破四旧立四新; pinyin:Pò Sìjiù Lì Sìxīn) began in Beijing on August 19. [3] The first things to change were the names of streets and stores: "Blue Sky Clothes Store" to "Defending Mao Zedong Clothes Store", "Cai E Road" to "Red Guard Road", and so forth. Many people also changed their given names to revolutionary slogans, such as Zhihong (志红, "Determined Red") or Jige (继革, "Following the Revolution"). [4]

Beijing Municipality in Peoples Republic of China

Beijing, formerly romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's third most populous city proper, and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of central government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China.

Blue Sky with a White Sun National Emblem of Republic of China

The Blue Sky with a White Sun serves as the design for the party flag and emblem of the Kuomintang (KMT), the canton of the flag of the Republic of China, the national emblem of the Republic of China and as the naval jack of the ROC Navy.

Mao Zedong Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.

Other manifestations of the Red Guard campaign included giving speeches, posting big-character posters, and harassment of people, such as intellectuals, [7] who defiantly demonstrated the Four Olds. [3] In later stages of the campaign, examples of Chinese architecture were destroyed, classical literature and Chinese paintings were torn apart, and Chinese temples were desecrated. [4]

Big-character posters are handwritten, wall-mounted posters using large-sized Chinese characters used as a means of protest, propaganda, and popular communication.

Intellectual people who primarily use intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity

An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about society, proposes solutions for its normative problems and gains authority as a public figure. Coming from the world of culture, either as a creator or as a mediator, the intellectual participates in politics either to defend a concrete proposition or to denounce an injustice, usually by rejecting, producing or extending an ideology, or by defending a system of values.

Chinese architecture style of architecture

Chinese architecture demonstrates an architectural style that developed over millennia in China, before spreading out to influence architecture all throughout East Asia. Since the solidification of the style in the early imperial period, the structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details. Starting with the Tang dynasty, Chinese architecture has had a major influence on the architectural styles of Japan, Korea, and Mongolia, and a varying amount of influence on the architectural styles of Southeast and South Asia including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam and The Philippines. Chinese architecture is typified by various features; such as, bilateral symmetry, use of enclosed open spaces, the incorporation of ideas related to feng shui such as directional hierarchies, a horizontal emphasis, and the allusion to various cosmological, mythological, or other symbolism. Chinese architecture traditionally classifies structures according to type, ranging from pagodas to palaces. In part because of an emphasis on the use of wood, a relatively perishable material, and due to a de-emphasis on major monumental structures built of less-organic but more durable materials, much of the historical knowledge of Chinese architecture derives from surviving miniature models in ceramic and published planning diagrams and specifications. Some of the architecture of China shows the influence of other types or styles from outside of China, such as the influences on mosque structures originating in the Middle East. Although displaying certain unifying aspects, rather than being completely homogeneous, Chinese architecture has many types of variation based on status or affiliation, such as dependence on whether the structures were constructed for emperors, commoners, or used for religious purposes. Other variations in Chinese architecture are shown in the varying styles associated with different geographic regions and in ethnic architectural design.

The architecture of China is as old as Chinese civilization. From every source of information—literary, graphic, exemplary—there is strong evidence testifying to the fact that the Chinese have always enjoyed an indigenous system of construction that has retained its principal characteristics from prehistoric times to the present day. Over the vast area from Chinese Turkistan to Japan, from Manchuria to the northern half of French Indochina, the same system of construction is prevalent; and this was the area of Chinese cultural influence. That this system of construction could perpetuate itself for more than four thousand years over such a vast territory and still remain a living architecture, retaining its principal characteristics in spite of repeated foreign invasions—military, intellectual, and spiritual—is a phenomenon comparable only to the continuity of the civilization of which it is an integral part.

The Cemetery of Confucius was attacked in November 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, when it was visited and vandalized by a team of Red Guards from Beijing Normal University, led by Tan Houlan. [8] [9] The corpse of the 76th-generation Duke Yansheng was removed from its grave and hung naked from a tree in front of the palace during the desecration of the cemetery in the Cultural Revolution. [10]

Red Guards broke into the homes of the bourgeois and destroyed paintings, books, and furniture; all were items that they viewed as part of the Four Olds. [11] Many families' long-kept genealogy books were burned to ashes.[ citation needed ] The Chinese government stopped short of endorsing the physical destruction of products. In fact, the government protected significant archaeological discoveries made during the Cultural Revolution, such as the Mawangdui and the Terracotta Army. [5]

Many artists and other cultural professionals were persecuted by vigilantes, although some cultural advances came about because of the period, including the integration of "new" western instruments and ballet into Peking opera. Traditional Chinese medicine also advanced despite the Four Olds campaign, most significantly by the derivation of the anti-malarial drug artemisinin from the qinghao plant. [5]

Upon learning that Red Guards were approaching the Forbidden City, Premier Zhou Enlai ordered the gates shut and deployed the People's Liberation Army against the Red Guards. After this incident, Zhou attempted to create a more peaceful code of conduct for the Red Guards, with the support of cadres Tao Zhu, Li Fuchuan, and Chen Yi. This plan was foiled by the ultra-leftists Kang Sheng, Jiang Qing, and Zhang Chunqiao. Although many of Zhou's other initiatives to stem the destruction failed because of their or Mao's own opposition, he did succeed in preventing Beijing from being renamed "East Is Red City" and the Chinese guardian lions in front of Tian'anmen Square from being replaced with statues of Mao. [12]

Appraisal of damage

No official statistics have ever been produced by the Communist party in terms of reporting the actual cost of damage. By 1978, many stories of death and destruction caused by the Cultural Revolution had leaked out of China and became known worldwide. [13]

Restoration

Starting in the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, there has been a massive rebuilding effort under way to restore and rebuild cultural sites that were destroyed or damaged during the Cultural Revolution. This has coincided with a resurgence in interest in, and demand for, Chinese cultural artifacts. Some have exploited this increased demand, producing counterfeit artifacts.

See also

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