Chinese Christian Poster Collection  »

The Revelation before the Revolution

The Art of Public Witness in Republican Era China


Between the collapse of Imperial China in 1911 and the establishment of modern-day China in 1949, the Republican Era stands as a complex period of hope, uncertainty, clashing ideologies, development, a “Christian heydey,” and all-out war. The Nationalist and Communist parties vied for attention and power. The borders of China shifted and Japan loomed large in the Northeast. In the midst of these tumultuous decades, Christian missionaries and converts sought to share their faith in a public and accessible way. Using the best technology that was available to them, Chinese Christian posters like the ones seen here were born.

Posters like these were the social media of the time—large prints on cheap paper that could be hung on posts and doorframes for everyone to see. Christians capitalized on this simple and effective way to share the gospel in the public square, often competing with the Communist and Nationalist parties who each produced their own posters offering alternative visions for society, and with commercial posters advertising things like cigarettes, soaps, and movies. Over time, posters were torn down, covered up, or burned, especially in the volatile period of the 1940s and early 1950s. This collection offers a rare glimpse into Christian images produced for mass consumption nearly a century ago, as evangelicals used art to convey the message of God and his salvation in a time of social and political upheaval.

Use the index to see the posters in more detail and view an English translation of the text. Then as you consider the rich teaching in each poster, think, too, about what gospel proclamation and Christian teaching might look like today with all the forms of media and social networking at our disposal.

What could the art of public witness look like today?

Above the Sea
Building a City
Jesus Mission
Jesus Life
Love Grape Vine
12 Virgins
House Keeper
Chinese family
Love 3 Scrolls
Road to Salvation
The Bible Banner
Holy The Everlasting God
Sin Blood Righteousness Glory
7 Truths of Jesus
1 John 1 7
John 3 16