Consuming Fragments of Mao Zedong: The Chairman’s Final Two Decades at the Helm
Nikita Khrushchev was not to Mao’s taste. The CCP Chairman showed no craving for gulyâskommunizmus. He hungered for something different. In the remarkable art film The Ming Tombs Reservoir Fantasy from 1958 (in which Mao appears briefly in person), we are served a sampling of what it may have been.1 Set in 1978, ten years after the liberation of Taiwan and with New China well into the ‘higher phase of communist society [when]. .. all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly’, the film has young revolutionaries gathering in the shade of a tree from the branches of which grow bananas, apples, pears, loquats, lychee. .. and living among farmers who each rear an average of 365 pigs a day (!) to meet some of the dietary needs of a population that has found a cure for cancer (massive quantities of Turfan grapes) and whose members live to the ripe old age of well past a hundred.2 It is a unique record of the Utopia of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a sweet Chinese dream of plenty.
KeywordsCultural Revolution Edible Wild Plant Great Leap Communist Society Dinner Party
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