A satin ribbon


On the black-and-white photo, my brother and I are wearing whopping big Mao buttons considered haute couture in those days. We are talking about China around 1960s-70s. My father, a chemical engineer, made those buttons himself, locked up in his laboratory, neglecting his real work, for that was the only thing safe to do during the lost years generally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. I think he enjoyed making them though, and proud too. Otherwise we wouldn’t be wearing them on a picture! I still have the buttons, now lying next to my laptop while I’m typing this blog post. Three of them, colourfully shiny and gold on a satin ribbon.  Good god, a satin ribbon!  So it wasn’t all about iron and steel even in those days. I think this is exactly why I now come to consider them a piece of art, perhaps rather unintended by their maker, because  “Art goes into the world unarmed, vulnerable to every quirk of fate, and it must survive only by its power to move men not to destroy it.”

I will keep the buttons safe and sound, dad!


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