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Chairman Mao Cigarette Lighter

Chairman Mao Cigarette Lighter
Chairman Mao Cigarette Lighter
Arrived in the United States
on September 7, 2001
Courtesy of Ellen Liberman

This is the second most important thing that Ellen brought back from China this year. Not only does this cigarette lighter feature a picture of Chairman Mao, but when you open it, an electronic melody plays.

With the assistance of the Asian Division of the Library of Congress, I learned that the tune was once popular during the Cultural Revolution. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

The East is red, the sun has risen.
China has produced a Mao Zedong.
He works for the people's happiness;
He is the people´s savior.

There's a certain irony in the capitalist motivation of this sort of souvenir that would probably provoke the Chairman, were he alive. And of course a strong sense of irony is a key element of a tacky treasure.

Copyright © 2000-2010, Julie Mangin. All Rights Reserved. April 2, 2016