Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Sri Rangam Temple

Sri Rangam is located in between two rivers, Cauvery (Kaveri)  and Kollidam (Coleroon) in Tiruchirapalli District (Trichy) in Southern India.  It is famous for Sri Ranganathasamy Temple, a religious place for the Hindus.  Sri Rangam is dedicated to Lord Vishnu (God of Creation).

This is the largest functioning temple in the world  (It covers the area of 631,000 square meters)  whereas Angkor Wat , Cambodia is the largest existing temple in the world (Since Angkor Wat is not functioning).  The Rajagopuram (the main tower) is 72 m tall and it is the tallest temple tower in Asia. 

Like all temples in India this temple also has numerous sculptors and art works and was built in the Dravidian Style of Architecture.

Below is the special cover which illustrates the artistic sculpture at the eastern entrance to the Sri Rangam temple. The stamp features Bhagawad Gita and one of the famous slokas from it. The cover was cancelled in Sri Rangam with the snake cancellation. (In Sri Rangam the main deity is in the sleeping posture on the snake). 

Bhagawad Gita is the part of the famous epic Mahabharata and it is the teachings of Lord Krishna, who is the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.  It is the religious and philosophical book of Hindus.

The sloka which is written in Hindi can be read in English below:

Karmanye Vadhikaraste,
Ma phaleshou kada chana

Which means "You have the right to perform your actions/duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions"

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

People At Work: Post Men and Women

The concept of mail - conveying a message from the sender to receiver in a written form - dates back to the invention of writing itself.  Even though Egyptian employed Pharos to send and receive written documents throughout Egypt, Romans are the ones who started proper postal system under Augustus Caesar.
At first mails were send through friends, merchants and native people.  After the development proper mail service first they were delivered by the couriers appointed by the local authorities.  They run with the mail from one place to another at regular interval of time.  Then horses, mules, camels and stage coaches are introduced.  Along with the increase in population several Post offices formed and the post man, post box, delivery system everything took several  faces.

The concept of community mail boxes is prevalent in many parts of the world.  Due to houses been spread over large area, mail boxes were installed in a common place.


The process of sorting mail has evolved over the years.  The concept of zip codes or PIN codes play a key role.  With the advent of Bar codes and computers most new mail gets sorted using OCR and Bar Codes.
Below you can see a Swiss stamp depicting a mobile sorting facility.

In olden days mail was mainly delivered by Post man waling long distances in rural terrain.  

The uniform worn by postmen and women has changed over time. And so has the look over the post boxes. Below you can see the 'pillar post box' which is a common feature of most of the erstwhile British Empire.

The uniform of the early postmen of India was very distinctive, with their unique head-gear and cummerband (waist-band). While the mail was delivered by hand, the long distances between postal offices were traversed by road on animal drawn carts.

As time went by, the mode of transport moved to cycles and then other motorized vehicles. Till today, post men/women use cycles for local delivery of post in India.


The importance of mail and it's reach can be gauged by the picture on the Bangladeshi stamp below. We can see people queuing up to avail postal services from a mobile post office.

Kalamkari Stamp

Kalamkari is a traditional textile art made in cotton cloth using bamboo pen and  natural colors.  It is derived from Persian language, in which Kalam means Pen and Kari means Craftmanship.  It is famous in India as well as Iran.

In India Andhra Pradesh, especially Masulipatnam and Kalahasthi are famous for this art.  This rural art flourished throughout India from the 14th century but gained popularity and acquired its name during Muslim rule.

Below is the card with original Kalamkari painting made on cotton cloth affixed.  And a Kalamkari stamp is stuck  it and this stamp was cancelled at Kalahasthi.  This stamp was issued by India Post as part of Traditional textiles and issued in the year 2009. Thanks to Mr. Hemachandra Rao - Chennai for the concept.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

23rd May: World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day is celebrated on 23rd March every year. 

Turtles are ancient creatures and they remains unchanged for millions of years. Ancient turtles like Dino Turtle are twice as big as today's biggest turtle Leatherback. To give you as sense of perspective, an adult Leatherback is as big as a double-bed.

Below you can see a stamp issued by Malaysia in 1979 depicting the Leatherback (scientific name: Dermochelys Coriacae)

Six out of seven sea turtle species are in danger.  To bring attention and increase knowledge and respect for turtles, World Turtle Day has been celebrated from 2000 onwards.  Various volunteer organizations are working to protect this species from becoming extinct.

Greenpeace is working to establish a global network to form protected ocean sanctuaries on the open seas, areas beyond any one country's jurisdiction. These protecting areas will keep them safe. Give your support to this network to achieve protected ocean sanctuaries.

In Chennai, India a voluntary organization called "Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network" is working to save sea turtles especially Olive Ridley.  They conduct free walks during the hatching season (December to April) when they ensure safe passage of baby turtles back to the sea.

Below is a miniature sheet issued by SriLanka depicting two animals. One of them being a Hawksbill Turtle.

Friday, 23 May 2014

18th May: International Museum Day

May 18th is celebrated as International Museum Day (IMD) every year by International Council of Museums (ICOM). The International Council of Museum (ICOM) is the main organization of museums and museum professionals. This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society.
This day was first celebrated in the year 1977 and from there on they celebrate every year with a certain theme.
The theme for 2013 IMD was Museum (Memory + Creativity) = Social Change.
This year ICOM is celebrating its 37th anniversary of IMD and the theme for this year's event is "Museum collections make connections".
Below is the Logo of 2014 IMD.

                     International Museum Day 2014 - Poster

This year, more than 35,000 museums from over 100 countries are taking part in this celebrations.

In India IMD was celebrated in various museums.  In Red Fort, New Delhi Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) conduct a workshop where visitors of the museum were allowed to hold and feel the artifacts, which are generally kept in glass enclosures in museums away from reach of visitors.

Kolkata Victoria Memorial Museum in collaboration with INTACH, West Bengal chapter conducted a workshop for visitors and PPT presentation on this year's theme and a special lecture on "Why do we waste Museum collections and Opportunities".

Below is the stamp issued by India Post to commemorate 200 years of Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Silk Stamps: Thailand

Traditionally Chinese Silk is world renowned.  But the silk industry in Thailand, India and few other countries are becoming increasingly popular.  In case of India, silk from a region called Kanchipuram  is very popular.  In recognition of this India post has issued stamp depicting traditional silk motifs on regular paper.

In 2010 as a part of Asian International stamp Exhibition Thailand has issued four postage stamps featuring amazing Thai Silk. 15,000 sets of stamps were hand made from about 6,000 yards (5,486 meters) of silk.  Each sheet contains four stamps.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Luminous stamp : Hong Kong


Hong Kong post has issued a miniature sheet on Chinese Dinosaurs on February 20th, 2014 which glows in the dark.  The miniature sheet is printed with a luminous effect which allows the unique features of the Chinese dinosaurs to glow in the dark.  Odd as it may seem, I was not aware of this fact till I stumbled on a write-up on the net.  Now that I have verified that it *does* glow in the dark, I am excited about this category of stamps.

I have one from  Croatia that has IR printing on it.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Khadi Stamp: India

India Post issued the world's first Khadi postage stamp on Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of INDIPEX-2011.  The face value of this stamp is 100Rs, but it comes as a presentation pack priced at Rs.250.
Khadi is a hand woven cotton cloth which is made using hand-spun thread.  Gandhiji described this hand-spun thread as "the thread of life" and he propagated the use of self-spun khadi to defy the economic exploitation by the British Government. Khadi along with the "Charkha" or spinning wheel became a symbol
of Indian patriotism, self-reliance and national pride during the freedom struggle.
Since a khadi cloth depicting Gandhiji and Charkha is glued on the ordinary stamp, it can be glued like an ordinary stamp.

Below is the miniature sheet issued on 12th February 2011.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Gold Stamp: From Swiss Post

Post Ch, the Switzerland Postal Department has issued an Gold Vreneli miniature sheet with circular stamp on 5th September 2013. The value of the sheet is CHF 6 and it comes with authentication certificate.  Because of the complication in making the Gold embossed Stamp they have minted in small numbers targeting philately collectors.

Vreneli is the informal name for a range of legal tender gold coins produced in Switzerland.  These coins had face values of 10, 20 and 100 Swiss francs.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

3D stamp: Hong Kong

Recently I got a wonderful 3D stamp issued by Hong Kong Post.  Hong Post has issued this stamp on the theme "Weather Phenomena" on 27th March 2014. This 3D stamp sheetlet bears the satellite image of trajectory typhoon Vicente when it approached Hong Kong in July 2012. Typhoon Vicente  with gale-force winds and rain, shuttering much of the city and injuring at least 129 people caused the Hong Kong city to raise its strongest typhoon warning for the first time in 13 years.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

People At Work: Farming

Before farming, people lived by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants. When supplies ran out, these hunter-gatherers moved on. They started to settle down near rivers where the land is very fertile. They found an alternating method called Farming.

Farming meant that people did not need to travel to find food. Instead, they began to live in settled communities, and grew crops or raised animals on nearby land. They built stronger, more permanent homes and surrounded their settlements with walls to protect themselves.

When humans started farming in 10,000 B.C, there were no tools invented.  So people did ploughing, sowing, watering and everything they did manually.

Then slowly population increased.  Small groups has become small colonies and colonies become community and city, country so on. Slowly the need for farming also increased. So they tamed animals and used them in farming.


As the need increased they started using machines like tractor, motorized pumps etc.


Monday, 12 May 2014

12th May: Today is the 104th Birth anniversary of Dorothy Hodgkin and 2014 is the International year of crystallography

Dorothy Mary Hodgkin (12th May 1910-29th July 1994) aka crowfoot  was a British Biochemist who was known for her knowledge on Protein and X-Ray Crystallography which are methods used to determine three dimensional figures of Bio-molecules. Some of her most influential discoveries are the confirmation of the structure of Penicillin and structure of vitamin B12. She was the third woman who won the Nobel prize in Chemistry.  12th May 2014 is her 104th Birth Anniversary, not only that 2014 is the International Year of Crystallography.

The below First Day Cover and top four stamps from sheet  were issued this year to commemorate the International Year of Crystallography.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Luxembourg - Silk Stamp

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of FSPL Luxembourg Post has issued a very special stamp made of silk. Federation des Societes Philateliques du grand-duche de Luxembourg (FSPL) is Luxembourg’s national philatelic federation.  It was founded in February 22nd 1934.

To mark the 80th anniversary a stamp sheet made of 100% silk was issued. The top layer of the stamp contains 30g of silk/sq.m.  Two stamps are printed on a sheet.

On the €0.60 stamp, two miniature-size young collectors stepping into a stamp album, a magnifying glass and a giant hand with stamp tongs are shown. A horse-drawn coach is also shown. Pictured in the selvage area to the right of this stamp is another miniature collector dumping stamps out of a wheelbarrow and a hand holding a device to project a stamp image onto the wall.

One stamp image is shown on the €0.85 stamp, along with Luxembourg’s architectural landmarks, Adolphe Bridge. When it was built early in the 20th century, it was the largest stone arch bridge in the world.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

8th May: World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.

May 8th is the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Red Cross is an International humanitarian Movement founded to protect human life and health. It is celebrated on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the founder of the Red Cross movement Mr. Henry Dunant.  Did you know that the very first Nobel Peace prize was awarded in the year 1901 to Henry Dunant and Frederic Passy? Since then, Red Cross has won the Nobel Prize in the years 1917, 1944 and in 1963.

The First Red Cross day was celebrated on 8th May 1949.
The above stamp was issued by Hong Kong  in the year 2013 to mark the 150th anniversary of the ICRC.  Perforation in the shape of a cross  are used for the first time by Hong Kong Post to highlight the emblem of the ICRC.

The above First Day Cover was issued by Mauritius Post for the 150th Anniversary of Red Cross.  You can see Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross on the left top corner of the emblem.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

7th May: Rabindranath Tagore's Birth Anniversary

Man without Boundaries:

Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta  on May 7th 1861.  Rabindranath was the 13th child of art loving Brahmin Tagore family. It is said that he hated class rooms and never been to proper schooling in his childhood. He started writing poems at the age of eight. Even though he is largely known for his rhythmic poems, he also penned several short stories, essays, novel, dramas and travelogues.  He scored music for his songs too. It was only at the age of sixty that he spent more of his time working on drawings.

A little known fact about Tagore is his contributions to the National Anthems of three countries.  He wrote the National anthem of India (Jana Gana Mana) and Bangladesh (Amar Shonar Bangla). And finally, the National anthem of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Matha) was originally written and tuned by Tagore and later it was translated and composed by Anana Samarakoon in 1940.

He is the first non-European to win Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1913. He also Knighted by British Government in 1915, but he resigned the honor as a protest against  Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919.

In his lifetime he travelled to more than thirty countries in five continents.  Most of his works were translated into English and other languages even during his lifetime.  This made him popular in Western countries.  Many countries issued stamps of Rabindranath Tagore.  Below is the stamp issued by India in 2011 on the occasion of 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Hong Kong: Year of Snake

The use of animals to mark the 12 components of the Lunar New Year cycle is a long held tradition in China. 2013 was the Year of Snake.

The above stamps were issued in the year 2013 for marking the Year of Snake. This issue is the second Lunar New Year special stamp issue in the fourth series released by Hong Kong post. The four stamps use different types of traditional Chinese arts and crafts to signify the theme of Year of Snake. (Clockwise from top) a picture of a snake that is made by Chinese paper cutting techniques, a snake rendered in Chinese ink and wash technique, picture of a snake in bronze inscription, a coiled snake shape like jade pendent are depicted.

The above sheetlet was issued this year (2014) depicting the picture of a horse made of gold issued for the Year of Horse and a picture of a snake made of silver issued for the Year of Snake.

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