Wannianqing is claimed to be the oldest graph used on Maozhang, predating the earliest writing by at least 1000 years. This highly distinctive plant was used sporadically prior to the Cultural Revolution, and is apparently one of the traditional symbols employed in Shaanxi papercuts.
According to Prof. Jin Zhilin the symbolic use of wannianqing dates back to the neolithic Hemudu culture. If this is the case then it would be useful to know whether its symbolic use was resurrected during the early years of the PRC; if not, then tracing the symbolic use of wannianqing across Chinese history would make an interesting project.
h. 29mm w. 29mm 2.2g
PLA Navy masthead book 1971
Masthead book 1958
Pottery fragment from Hemudu culture c. 5000-4000 BCE
Detail from International Socialism Conference poster, Beijing 1957
Wannianqing made a prominent foreground appearance in a series of illustrations in a 1973 masthead book. Each illustration depicts a different character from one of the model revolutionary works, in this case Xi'er from The White-haired Girl, alongside the cover of a printed edition of Mao's Speech at the Yan'an Symposium on Literature and Arts.