Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The frog in the moon, once again

Between 1972 and 1974, the archaeological site of Mawangdui located in Changsha, China, has been excavated. On this site, the tombs of three persons from the Han Dynasty have been discovered. The tomb number 1 was the one of a woman who died in her fifties. Inside the coffin, T-shaped silk banners were found on the coffin. One of these banners, depicts the Chinese abstraction of the cosmos and the afterlife as seen at the time of the Han Dynasty. This silk banner has been reproduced on a set of stamp and on a imperforated souvenir sheet from China, issued on the 25th of March 1989. Here is the souvenir sheet, depicting the full banner (as usual, click on the picture to zoom).
The top of the banner pictures the heaven, the bottom the underworld and in the middle is pictured the earth. If you look closely on the top left corner of the banner, you will see a crescent of moon, and just near the moon, you will see the silhouette of a frog, as in the legend I wrote about yesterday. The frog is not very easy to see, because the banner is quite dark.
The three stamps of the set picture each of them a part of the banner : the heaven, the earth and the underworld. Here is the stamp picturing the heaven where we can see a bit better the frog in the moon. It is still a bit dark, I must admit those stamps were extremely hard to scan.

I got all those stamps from a Chinese friend who was kind enough to send me the full set of stamps, but also the FDC and a sort of first day program, that I show you here.

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