Yao Wenyuan (1931-2005)

The Cultural Revolution in Images -- Caricature-Posters from Guangzhou 1966-1977

Yao Wenyuan 姚文元 (1931-2005) was a literary critic, and the author of the article “On the Historical Play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office”, published in the Wenhui bao 文匯報, and then reprinted in the People's Daily (Renmin ribao, 人民日報) in November 1965 (Wagner, 1990: 301). The publication of this article is often quoted as one of key events which preceded the official beginning of the Cultural Revolution. In 1966 he joined the Cultural Revolution Group, and the Politburo in 1969. He was arrested in 1976, and sentenced to twenty years in prison in 1981 (MacFarquhar and Schoenhals, 2006: 475). During the Cultural Revolution he became an authority in the cultural affairs of the country, for this reason in the caricatures of the collection Yao Wenyuan is often mocked for his social pretenses. For instance, he is accused of being a “mediocre man of letters” (wen ci 文疵) and of writing lies.


MacFarquhar Roderik and Michael Schoenhals. Mao’s Last Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.
Wagner, Rudolf G. The Chinese Contemporary Historical Drama: Four Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.