Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Trendy Pro-Communism Purses

Reader Chris Port emails:

"I saw this site offering purses with (in addition to skulls) 'cool Asian script that no one knows the meaning of!' This looked like a job for Hanzi Smatter. Here's a closeup pic of the purses [shown above]. Thanks for any enlightenment you can grant, Chris"

= great effort; strive; try hard
= complete, finish, settle; whole
= orderly, neat, tidy; whole
(simplified version ) = political party, gang, faction

Professor David Porter of University of Michigan has a collection of original pro-Communism Chinese slogans. The original quote was:


which translates as "It is our great duty for the [communist] party to complete recognize itself and keep the spirit positive."


  1. Are you sure that they're pro-commie, with the skulls and all? I sense a certain irony, here...

  2. I'm with Tim Wesson on this one. There's definitely irony involved.

    However, since there's no explicit reference to the Communist party, the message could just as easily apply to any political power -- such as the Bush administration -- with the same irony.

  3. I believe that phrase is fairly common in mainland China, but not outside of it. Added to the fact that it's in simplified Chinese, it pretty much has to be pro-communist. ;)

  4. I have seen, with my own eyebulbs, ethnic Chinese carrying bags or handbags (in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok) with slogans ranging from "F**k Me" to "Kill Osama!" to "Free Love", as if love were imprisoned.

    One wonders if the carriers had ANY idea of the message they bore?

  5. My favorite tee shirt was this guy in Causeway Bay, the busiest Hong Kong shopping district wearing a shirt that said on his back (in letters as big as possible):


    And no, it didn't have asterisks.

  6. I saw an old man in Shanghai wearing a beanie that said SHIT

  7. Didn't Paul Frank have a t-shirt that said in Japanese "I am a stupid American?"

  8. raging red: that’s a shirt on j-list.

  9. Tim Wesson,

    The characters on the purse were printed as simplified Chinese, also there is an original pro-Communism quote that emphisized on the Communist party.

    Whether if it was intentional to be ironic or applied to another political power, we may never know.

    It is still odd to see that quote printed on a purse.

  10. T-shirt Hell has a large selection shirts with interesting phrases.

  11. Much better than the hobo bag I got my girlfriend that said "Arbeit Mach Bags".

  12. The t-shirt anonymous saw that said 'Jesus is a Cunt' on it was most likely a cradle of filth t-shirt; them being a gothic metal band from britain. The front of the tee, if memory serves, shows a nun masturbating with a crucifix. It's kinda banned here in the UK and if a copper sees you wearing one he'll make you put a jumper on or something. I've only ever seen someone wearing one once and it's great for pissing idiots off, if that's your thing. There certainly is something tempting about a t-shirt that features a nun masturbating.... ^_^

  13. A girl at a party had this bag, and when she heard I knew Japanese she asked me what it meant. Knowing only very basic Chinese I guessed and said something like 'effort completes the Party.'

  14. Another translation would be:

    It is the duty of the Communist Party to finish itself off completely.

  15. Er, Carridine, are you just making a joke I'm not getting or something? Why wouldn't anyone in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur understand the messages on the bags they were carrying? English is very widely spoken in Singapore and Malaysia. And "Free Love" is obviously a reference to the 60s catchphrase - slogans are printed on bags all the time, surely?

  16. Anon: I don't think 完成 has the connotation of "finish off" that you're trying to suggest. You pretty much have to use 結束 or 解決 for that.

  17. Neither of the two would imply the dissolution of the party; 结束 means to end (usually a cycle of events) while 解决 is used in the context of resolving some matter. The closest colloqial equivalent of "finish off" is 干掉, which possesses a rather strong overtone.

  18. There's a large country called China that uses the characters in question.

    As written: Struggle to complete the consolidation of the party

    The entire slogan as quoted: Struggle to complete the task of party consolidation and bring about fundamental improvement in the party's spirit!