According to Mao, workers, peasants, and soldiers—i.e. the masses—were the backbone of China and most importantly, served as the base of his support. Thus, according to the Chairman, art had to serve the general populace and have political, revolutionary content that would instruct them.
Following Mao’s instructions, many new ceramics celebrated the masses either in sculptural or painted form. In these examples, farmers, factory workers, and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers are depicted cheerfully completing their work for the sake of the nation and revolution; they highlight the alleged prosperity of the nation that was built upon the masses. By celebrating workers, peasants, and soldiers and their contributions, these ceramics offered models for others to emulate: a reminder to faithfully and selflessly serve the motherland. However, these ideal portrayals of labor gloss over the harsh reality faced by the Chinese population, including starvation, violence, and poor working and living conditions.