Urumqi, XinJiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Cultural Revolution Committee of Urumqi / Xinjiang Army Divisioni, 1967/8. Both banners bear the inscription "Chairman Mao Reviewing the Great Army of the Cultural Revolution," and depict the August, 1966 mass rally at Tiananmen Gate, where more than 10 million Red Guards from all over China converged to express their solidarity with Mao and his second-in-command, Lin Biao. Additional text on the lower banner reads "Long Live Chairman Mao for ten thousand years" and "Sailing in the ocean requires a helmsman" -- both quotes from Lin Biao. The agencies responsible for the banners are identified in lower right of each: "Cultural Revolution Committee of Xinjiang Army Division, 1968" (upper banner) and "Cultural Revolution Committee of Urumqi, 1967" (lower).
The presence of Biao (the figure to the right of Mao, holding the Little Red Book in the top banner) is of particular interest. Biao, compiler of The Quotations of Chairman Mao (popularly known as the "Little Red Book") and coiner of the phrase "Maoism," was probably more responsible than any other figure for creating the cult of personality around Mao, particularly at the time of the Cultural Revolution. He quickly ascended Party ranks, and was widely seen as Mao's obvious successor. But in 1971, Biao was exposed in the process of an apparent coup attempt (the details of the event have never been made public). He died in an airplane crash attempting to leave China, and from this point forward was officially condemned as a traitor by the Communist Party; any record of his achievements on behalf of the Revolution was expunged from the official record, and any positive image of Biao would have been confiscated and destroyed as a matter of course -- suggesting either that these banners left China prior to 1971, or that they remained out of sight until some later date. The second possibility is plausible given whence the banners issued - both were created by Red Guard branches in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an extremely remote province in China's northwest corner (and for many years the center of a militant independence movement for Uyghur and other Turkic minorities). In any case, the precise manner in which these banners left China will likely never be known; they surfaced at a New England antiques show in 2011. Two extraordinary hand-crafted parade banners, ca. 110" x 84" (9 feet x 7 feet), one slightly smaller. Each entirely composed of hook-work with colored yarns on white muslin backing. Slight age-toning and soil; a few threads loose but no significant losses; Near Fine condition overall. Folded and stored in original velvet draw-string carrying bags, as found.