Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four

Was Mao Zedong’s fourth wife one of history’s deadliest criminals, or was she a scapegoat for a country that needed to preserve the image of its founding father? The answer is complicated, tragic, and involves a surprising amount of high-stakes theater criticism.

Featured image: A political poster propagandizing against the Gang of Four. Jiang Qing is caricatured on the lower left. The slogan translates as “Decisively Throw Out the Wang-Zhang-Jiang-Yao Anti-Party Clique!” (Image source)

Jiang Ching on the cover of a movie magazine, going by her stage name Lán Píng. (Image source)

Jiang Ching with Mao as a young woman. This picture was taken in the 1930s. (Image source)

Another photograph of the couple in 1946. (Image source)

Jiang Qing in 1976. (Image source)

The Gang of Four at trial. (Image source)

A sacred mango! This photo was captioned “Mangoes, The Precious Gift that Great Leader, Chairman Mao Personally Gave to the Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Team of Capital Workers & Peasants, China, 1968” (Image source)

A youth group associated with Mao’s Red Guards puts on a dance. (Image source)

A scene from the Red Detachment of Women, one of the operas propagandizing to the Chinese populace. (Image source)

The Panchen Lama photographed during a struggle session in 1964. Despite the euphemistic name, these were brutal, public humiliations and beatings designed to humiliate and break down victims. (Image source)