Venerating Mangoes Was a Thing in Mao’s China?

The Mango Was a Thing in Mao's China?

Apparently, mangoes were used as a symbol in Mao’s China in 1968. A rather unusual relic for a rather specific date!

The Museum Reitberg in Zurich, Switzerland is running an exhibit on the relationship between mangoes and Mao from February 15th to June 16th, 2013. (I kid you not, here’s the website.)

According to The Vault (Slate.com‘s history blog):

Throughout the spring and summer of 1968, competing student groups loyal to Mao engaged in bloody clashes. Mao asked 30,000 Beijing factory workers to act as peacekeepers, and many of these were killed or injured.

In the middle of an uneasy peace, Mao received a crate of mangoes from the Pakistani foreign minister, who was visiting Beijing. Mao regifted the fruit to the factory workers’ peacekeeping squads—who were now calling themselves “The Worker-Peasant Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Teams”—in thanks for their efforts.

Workers saw the mango as an indication of Mao’s care for the working class. The crate of mangoes was split up and individual fruits were sent to factories. There they were put on altars, sealed in wax, pickled in formaldehyde, and (in at least one factory) boiled in water, of which each worker drank a symbolic spoonful.

Source: [here], [here], and [here]

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