Sunday, 26 October 2014

Degaldoruwa Cave Temple: Sri Lanka

Degaldoruwa cave temple also known as Degaldoruwa raja maha viharaya was built by King Rajadi Rajasinha and his elder brother King  Sri Rajasinha during the 18th Century (around 1771). 

To give you a sense of time, this is around 5 years before the US Declaration of Independence. Comparatively, Ajanta caves in India date back at-least 1500+ years earlier.

It is interesting to note that the Rajasinha lineage is related to the Madurai Royal Family!

The temple is situated at, a village near Kandy Town. The temple had been built at a place where two rocks were touching each other from above and below.  Pictures related to Buddhism are painted on the walls. The style of painting used is called as Kandyan era paintings. The paintings at the temple were the work of only four painters!! 

The details of the constructions can be inferred from the copper plate grant which is called Degaldoruwa Thamba Sannasa.

Paintings on wall and the rock can be seen in the below picture. The green highlighted area is the one that appears on the stamp.

Portion of the painting that appears on the Sri Lankan stamp

Friday, 24 October 2014

Rupavahini: Sri Lankan Television

Rupavahini is the National Television Channel of Sri Lanka. Japanese people presented this Television Channel to the Sri Lankan people on Valentines Day in the year 1982. Since then, it has served the purpose of education, information and entertainment.  Currently they are transmitting analog signals and it will become digital by the year 2015.

To commemorate the launching of National Television Channel, Sri Lankan post issued a 2.50 Srilankan Rupee stamp.


When I showed the Rupavahini stamp to my parents, they recalled their childhood days.  Even though India's National channel, Doordarshan  was launched way back in 1959, the southern most part of India could not watch Doordarshan due to coverage issues.  So, they used to have a thirteen feet long antenna on the terrace hoisted up on a tall tower (This type of antenna is called a "Yagi antenna"). If they wanted to watch Doordarshan, they had to turn the antenna towards Chennai and towards the South to watch Rupavahini. The Tamil film and songs, advertisement and lottery programs were their favorite especially in Black and White TV. One of the serials my Dad remembers from that time is "Remington Steele", whose hero (Pierce Brosnan) later acted as James Bond.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Renewable Energy II: Liechtenstein Post

Renewable energy sources are mainly the Sun, Wind and Water. Today's conventional energy sources may exhaust one day but renewable energy is not depleted upon usage. It is natural, harmless, economical and good for the environment.

Liechtenstein Post has issued two series of renewable energy stamps, one in 2010 and the other in 2011..  Below is the second series of renewable energy stamps.  I heard that they used Thermochromic ink in this stamp and if you apply heat on the area, the colour will change. 

But I couldn't see the change at all.  I purchased it from Liechtenstein Post directly.  Is there anything like only in miniature sheet it will work or any other hidden thing.  If anybody know the answer please clarify.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Peter Paul Rubens: Baroque Painter

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish(Flemish is a Dutch language and one of the official language of Belgium) Artist born on 28th June 1577 in North Rhine Westphalia,Germany. .  He is widely known for his portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological subjects done in Baroque style. In addition to that Rubens ran a large studio in Antwerp  which produced paintings popular with art collectors throughout Europe. He died at the age of 63. 
Other well known Baroque painters of that period include Rembrandt and Poussin. Baroque paintings can be identified by its Chiaroscuro use of light effects 
On the occasion of his 400th Birth Anniversary India Post has issued his Self Portrait in 4th of April, 1978.

Friday, 17 October 2014

International Year of Crystallography: Liechtenstein

UNESCO names each and every year  based on specific theme and year 2014's 
theme is CrystallographyTo commemorate Crystallography year Liechtenstein Post issued two stamps on 1st September 2014 based on metamorphosis of crystals. 

Crystals are nothing but minerals and plays important role in various field of science.  Minerals takes thousands of years to grow as crystals.  Metamorphosis is a complete change of form, structure, appearance, character etc in a person, animal or a thing. CHF 1.00 shows metamorphosis I and CHF 2.00 shows metamorphosis II.  With the aid of a free app (SEPAC Stamps) the postage stamps can be scanned and the metamorphosis of the crystal can then be observed by means of a video animation by the artist Bianca Violet. The stamps are issued by the means of a multi-stage stamping process and it is coated with UV gloss.

Sochi Winter Olympics: Liechtenstein

Sochi, Russia is situated along the black sea is mainly covered with rocks such as Mesozoic and Cenozoic.  It was named Sochi in the year 1896 and got its city status in 1917.  During World War II, it served as a rehabilitation  center and at present it is the major resort town of Russia drawing millions of visitors annually, mostly during May to September. It is also the unofficial summer capital of Russia.
In 2007, Sochi won the bid to host the XXII Winter Olympic Games and Para Olympic Games and in 2014 it successfully conducted those two major events. This was the first time Russia had hosted Winter and Para Olympic Games after the dissolution of the Union of  Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) in 1991. Sochi, Russia hosted the XXII Winter Olympic Games from 7th to 23rd February 2014. To commemorate this event Liechtenstein Post has issued a stamp on 11th November 2013.
The face value is 2.60 and the the name Liechtenstein are printed using the Silver Hot foil printing method. Stone originating from Sochi was powdered and mixed with paint and affixed  to the stamp using thermography process. Thermo means heat.  Using heat to create the letters or images on the desired surface is called thermography. Here the powdered rock is mixed with the paint and applied on the stamp paper and heat is used to affix that firmly on the stamp.  If you glide your fingers on dark blue colour place you can feel the powdered stone.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chinese zodiac dragon: Liechtenstein

Chinese Zodiac Signs are popular all around the world. The zodiac year plays key role in one's astrology. It is a twelve year cycle and each year is represented by some animal.  It starts with Rat year and goes on with Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and finally Pig.

These Lunar based Chinese Zodiac New Year usually falls between last week of January and first week of February of the Gregorian Calendar.

Silhouette, is an art of cutting the outline of the design, where as the inner structure is featureless.  It is made of single color, usually black against the light background color, usually white.  The finished work looks like a shadow image of an object.  It is a French folk art.

Filigree is an art of making small pores inside the design to give a unique look. Usually Filigree has done on gold and silver wares.  Karim Nagar, Andhra Pradesh in India is the home for this Filigree Work.

You can see the combination of Silhouette and Filigree work in many Chinese artifacts.  They have done filigree silhouette on mediums like leather, paper etc.,

Liechtenstein Post has issued few stamps using this Filigree Silhouette technique and the pores are done with the help of latest laser technology.  They used Red color for the stamps because in China red is the symbol of luck.

The above miniature sheet was issued on 14th November 2011.  The zodiac cycle and the letters are printed using Hot Gold Foil printing process.

The above miniature sheet was issued in 12th November 2012.  I have scanned the miniature sheet with a green paper in the back, so that the pores are visible.  The letters are printed with hot gold foil printing method.  Below is the reserves side of the stamp.

The "Year of the Horse" miniature sheets were issued on 11th November, 2013. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

SIPA Monthly Meeting Update: Oct-12th

To further my interest, I had joined SIPA, South Indian Philately Association quite some time back and have been attending it's monthly meeting fairly regularly. These meetings are held at the Philatelic Bureau building, Mount Road on every 2nd Sunday. Today's meeting was interesting and here is an update.

Mr. Balakrishna Das's announced tomorrow's special function on the occasion of Philatelic Week and the release of two special covers.

Mr. Nelson, Secretary SIPA, has taken on the onerous task of covering all the countries of the world from the Philately point-of-view. Today's segment was about "Andorra", the 9th country he is covering. It is interesting to note that many collectors collect stamps from countries that they cannot really locate on a map. Andorra is one such country. It is jointly governed by Spain and France and is sandwiched between the two, in the Pyrenees mountains. It issues stamps from either the French side (with the text Correos Andorra) or from the Spanish side (with the text Andorra). Did you know that selling stamps is one of the key revenue streams for the country? It has issued around 1000 stamps so far.

Mr. G. Ram Mohan whose primary theme is "Subashithani" (timeless quotes/words of wisdom that are represented in stamps). Today he spoke about his Civil Engineering background and his passion for minerals and Gems. A Mineral can be considered a Gem provided it satisfies criteria like Clarity, Rarity etc. and India has always considered the Navarathnas as special. He also prepared a one frame exhibit on Gems - the hardest part being mounting 3D gems onto stamp sheets. You can read about a recent newpaper article about his collection here.

Mr Hemanchandra Rao spoke about the centenary of Panama canal and his most favorite topic: ships.   He also compared Chennai's Buckingham canal and Panama canal. Buckingham Canal is far older and probably involved many hardships and menial labour to build. While other countries are clamouring to issue stamps on the 100th anniversary of Panama Canal, we hardly pay attention to our own history. Mr. Rao is a mine of information and you can see a write-up on his interests here. On a lighter note, see this news about Egypt confusing Suez and Panama canals when issuing a stamp recently :)

Meeting came to an end with Mr. Mahesh's short speech on how Philately as a hobby benefits youngsters.

Crystallography : Swiss stamp

UNESCO has declared this year as a "International Year of Crystallography". UNESCO names every year according to certain theme. So focus will be on that particular theme for that year.  Usually scientific and environment related themes are selected. Crystallography plays key role in medicine, atomic structure etc.

To commemorate 2014, Swiss Post had issued two stamps on Crystallography on 6th March, 2014. To make it more special, these stamps are printed in Hot foil printing process. In Hot foil printing heat is used to transfer metallic foil to a solid surface.  Here silver foil is used to make the crystal design and the names of the crystals.

The 85 centime stamp has the picture of Epidote, a green colored mineral which is abundant in Switzerland and the 1 franc stamp has the picture of Amethyst, a quartz variety found almost everywhere.

Swiss National Park

Swiss National Park (SNP), one of Europe's oldest National Parks, is situated in Canton, East side of Switzerland.  It was established on 1st of August 1914.  It is part of UNESCO's biosphere reserve.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been categorized SNP as a Strict Nature Reserve, which means the visitors has to strictly follow the rules and regulations of the Park to protect its nature.  This park draws the attention of more than one and a half lakh visitors a year.

This year is the centenary year for SNP and to commemorate this, Swiss Post has issued stamps on 6th March-2014 depicting a panoramic view of SNP.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Swiss Record Stamp

When I heard about Swiss Record stamp I was wondering what that would look like.  I haven't seen any real Records.

When I got that stamp I was looking for more information about Record.  My father told me that before cassettes they used to listen music in Long-Play Record players. Even I have rarely seen cassettes and cassette players. All I know is CD's and CD players,mp3 players.

On 4th September 2014 Swiss Post issued a Record Stamp, a stamp with a special coating on which Swiss National Anthem has been imprinted on it.  There is a hole in the center of the round stamp so that it can be placed on the record player to play brass version of the Swiss national Anthem.

Now I have the record stamp, I have to look for the Player to test it.

You can see the scanned image of the record below:

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