The red cue ball in this billiards set from 1951 represents the People’s Republic of China (PRC); the other balls symbolize problems that the government wanted to address. The green ball in the third row, for instance, demonizes Chiang Kai-shek, who led the opposition to the Communists during the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. He is depicted as a lame dog because the PRC derided him as a “running dog,” or lickspittle, for the Americans who supported his cause. The cue ball also knocks down tax evaders (blue ball, second row), landlords (black ball, fourth row), disease-carrying mosquitoes (white ball, fifth row), and American imperialists (the green ball atop the triangle).
The set, which is valued at more than $15,000, belongs to Justin Schiller, co-owner of Battledore (845.339.6944, www.childlit.com/battledore), a Kingston, N.Y., gallery that deals in Chinese Communist propaganda–themed items (see “The People’s Art“).