'Love the motherland'

Nick Holdstock

'Learning science to build and safeguard the motherland'

I took these pictures in the villages around Turpan, a small oasis town an hour's drive from Ürümqi, earlier this year. Propaganda murals used to be common throughout the Chinese countryside, but are much rarer now. The slogans are in both Uighur and Chinese. Language is a tricky political subject in Xinjiang at the moment, as it is in Tibet – there have been protests over plans to phase Uighur and Tibetan out of classrooms. It's perhaps an ominous sign that a Uighur woman in 'New Countryside, New Farmers, New Customs' is reading a Chinese newspaper. It's also noteworthy that two-thirds of the pictures have Uighur policemen in them (there's recently been a recruitment drive). As for why there are so many murals in Turpan, an economically prosperous part of Xinjiang (even for Uighurs), but not elsewhere in the province, I don't know for sure. My guess is that it's a local initiative, and that there also happens to be someone there with a knack for mural-painting.

New countryside, new farmers, new customs

'New Countryside, New Farmers, New Customs'

Love the motherland

'Love the motherland'

Love socialism

'Love socialism'

Study hard and make progress every day

'Study hard and make progress every day'

Bring culture, science and health services to the countryside

'Bring culture, science and health services to the countryside'


  • 9 December 2010 at 10:55am
    Geoff Roberts says:
    All very sound precepts, except for 'love the Motherland' which is a little tacky.

  • 11 December 2010 at 10:49pm
    Nick Holdstock says:
    The University of Westminster has a remarkable collection of Chinese propaganda posters, ranging from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, which can be viewed online: