Monday, August 18, 2008

Registered cover from Brazil

I’m back from a rainy and windy three days weekend in Dublin, but I will tell about this later in the week. For today, let’s go to a more sunny country : Brazil.

I received recently a nice registered cover from Brazil. What makes me even more happy is that this is not a cover I got from a circuit of cover exchange, but a cover that an Ebay seller used to send me my purchase. I’m really pleased to see the care he took to prepare a nice cover to send me the item I won. This is clearly not the case of all sellers on Ebay…
The stamp located on the right bottom has been issued on the 23rd of November 2001 for Christmas. It pictures a very traditional Christmas scene.

The long rectangular stamp is a more recent one because it has been issued in 2008 (sorry I could not find the exact date of issue…) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of João Guimarães Rosa. João Guimarães Rosa (1908-1967) was a Brazilian novelist who is often considered as the greatest Brazilian novelist born in the 20th century. In parallel with a diplomatic career he has written several novels, the most famous one being Grande Sertão : Veredas (The Devil to Pay in Backlands) sometimes compared to the Ulysses of James Joyce.
The stamp reproduces a photograph of Guimarães Rosa in the early 60’s when he was elected to the Academia Brasileira de Lettras (Brazilian Academy of Letters) (he died of a heart attack just three days after assuming his position in this academy for the first time, after four years of postponement). In the lower right corner of the stamp is pictured the symbol of infinity that Guimarães Rosa had chosen to finish his books as an end point that suggests a never ending story. The background picture evokes Cordisburgo, his home town, and the conflict between Good and Evil, with the blue cow-boy and the red bull (this conflict is in the center of his novel “Grande Sertão : Veredas”).

The souvenir sheet is also an issue from 2008. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in Brazil.
At the beginning of the 20th century, coffee was the main export product of Brazil. Brazilian farmers, looking for manpower, tried to attract immigrants from Europe. After a first wave of immigrants from Italy, the Brazilian government signed, in 1907, a treaty with the Japanese government, allowing Japanese immigration to Brazil. The first immigrants, fleeing poverty in their country and hoping to become quickly rich, arrived in Brazil in 1908 to work in coffee plantations. As you can imagine reality was different from what they had dreamed about : hard work and low salaries were waiting for them… Nowadays Brazil is the home of the largest Japanese population outside Japan.
The margin of the souvenir sheet pictures some elements of the Japanese culture : paper lanterns, fireworks, traditional clothing, traditional musical instrument, cherry blossom (the symbol of Japan). Grains of coffee can also be seen, to symbolize the fact that Japanese immigrants came first to work in coffee plantations.
The first stamp pictures the ship Kasato Maru, which brought the first immigrants from Japan in 1908. Originally a Russian vessel used as hospital ship, the Kasato Maru became a Japanese ship after the end of the Russian-Japanese war. It became a passenger vessel carrying immigrants to Hawaii in 1906, and to Peru and Mexico in 1907. On the 18th of June 1908, after a 52 days trip from the port of Kobe, the Kasato Maru arrived in Brazil, in the port of Santos, carrying 781 persons (165 families). It marked the beginning of a continuous flow of Japanese immigration to Brazil.
The stamp also pictures a map of Brazil, and the letter C for centenary.

The second stamp pictures a piece of Origami (the traditional Japanese art of paper folding), a crane, one of the most famous model in Origami (there is a legend that says that if you fold one thousand cranes, your wish will be granted !). The stamp also pictures the flags of Japan and Brazil and again the big C for centenary.
The anniversary of the start of Japanese immigration in Brazil has already been commemorated in the past by the Brazilian post. On the 18th of June 1958, the 50th anniversary was commemorated by the issue of this stamp, whose design is hard to decipher.

On the 18th of June 1988, the 80th anniversary was commemorated with a stamp picturing the Kasato Maru together with a Japanese family in traditional clothes.

Seeing this, I can only guess that the souvenir sheet was issued on the 18th of June 2008 to match the exact anniversary of the arrival of the ship…

1 comment:

hyphen8 said...

I have a small collection of origami and origami-related items on postage stamps, but I don't have the Brazilian ones, so I'm jealous! ;)

You might be interested in this page that lists a few of the older origami stamps:

When I get a chance I'll send you some additional info: Hong Kong had a terrific set in 2008 that you might want to look for - you can see a small photo here: