China during the Cultural Revolution: women pilots about to take aid to a disaster area. Colour lithograph after Tian Kesheng, 1975.

  • Tian, Kesheng.
June 1975
  • Pictures

About this work


After an oil painting of women pilots in the China Air Force. The painting shows a heroic woman captain setting flying assignments to the team. Their mission is to carry immediate sustenance to the disaster area as well as passing the Party’s solicitude to the people suffering. In the background, supplies are loaded on to an airplane from a lorry. On the wet ground, the bag marked "zhong liang" is grain for food and the box with the red cross is inscribed "Give our best regards to the people in the disaster area!" ("xiang zai qu ren min wen hou!")

From the 1950s onwards, the PLA Air Force recruited female pilots. Chairman Mao claimed that "Women can uphold half the sky" ("Fu nu neng ding ban bian tian"). He meant that women were as able as men; they also were important revolutionary forces. The painting shows the life of women pilots in fighting disasters and emergencies. These women pilots are characterized as true warriors. They are assigned formidable, crucial and urgent missions, such as transporting armaments and paratroops, fighting floods and earthquakes, and flying special planes for the leaders of the State and the Army


Liaoning sheng : Liaoning ren min chu ban she, June 1975 (Liaoning : Liaoning mei shu yin shua chang)

Physical description

1 print : lithograph, printed in colours ; sheet 53.4 x 77 cm



Dang de wei tuo Bears serial publication number (Bian hao): 8090-504/2


Di yi ban; Di yi ci yin shua [1 ed.; 1st printing]; 1--50,000 [print run].


Wellcome Collection 656937i

Creator/production credits

The painting was executed in 1973-1974 (oil on canvas 130.5 x 196.2 cm). A less stern counterpart was produced in 1990, called Daughters of the blue sky--information from the painter's website ( accessed 11 July 2007)



Where to find it

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