Monday, October 13, 2008

Chinese birds

Several weeks ago (I should even say several months ago…) I have received a letter from China through a stamp exchange circuit. The cover contained a very nice souvenir sheet that I will show you, but first I would like to show you the cover because it is franked with an impressive stamp.

The long stamp that you can see on the cover is 120 mm long ! It is part of a set of four stamps and one souvenir sheet issued on the 5th of September 1993. This long stamp is in fact extracted from the souvenir sheet. I was not able to find a scan of the complete souvenir sheet and/or of the four other stamps of the set. If somebody has one I will be happy to post it here.
The subject of the set is a place called “the Longmen grottoes”. The Longmen Grottoes, also called Longmen Caves, are located 12 km south of present day Luoyang in Henan province, China. The grottoes are densely dotted along two mountains: Xiangshan (to the east) and Longmenshan (to the west). The Yi River flows northward between them. Along with the Mogao Caves and Yungang Grottoes, the Longmen Grottoes are one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites in China. The grottoes contain 2100 niches, more than 100,000 Buddhist statues, some 40 pagodas and 3600 tablets ! It is the most impressive collection of Chinese art dating from 316 to 907 and it represents the zenith of stone carving in China. The area was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in November 2000.
The stamp on the cover pictures the ancestors worshipping temple.

I don’t think this long stamp is very frequent on cover, because few people actually accepts to destroy a souvenir sheet to take out a stamp. It is a pity that the sender has put an air mail label on the stamp itself.

The second stamp on the cover is a definitive stamp that I have already shown in a
previous post.

Now let me show you the souvenir sheet that was included in the cover.

Nice isn’t it ? It has been issued on the 28th of February 2008 and pictures Chinese birds. The species that are pictured on the sheet are :
- The Formosan magpie (Urocissa caerulea)
- The Tibetan bunting (Emberiza koslowi)
- The Cabot’s tragopan (Tragopan Caboti)
- The Snowy-cheeked laughing thrush (Garrulax sukatschewi)
- The Golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus)
- The Biddulph’s ground jay (Podoces biddulphi), which is, by the way, the same bird than the one pictured on the definitive stamp used on the cover I showed above.

I think this souvenir sheet is nice, mainly when you like stamps picturing birds, like me. I wonder if those stamps will be seen very often used on covers…

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