Thursday, February 19, 2009

Five FDC from Indonesia

In 2008, Japan and Indonesia have commemorated the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. Since 1958, The Republic of Indonesia and Japan have been expanding their cooperation and friendship not only in economic, but also in culture, education and in other fields. This commemoration has been the opportunity for both countries to produce a joint stamp issue. This issue took the form of a souvenir sheet of ten stamps for each country. The stamps of the both souvenir sheets have the same design in both countries, only the background of the sheet differs. The ten stamps are in fact organized in five pair of stamps, ear pair being dedicated to a different theme: scenery, temples, flora, musical instruments and fauna. For each theme, each pair contains a stamp picturing a subject specific to each country.
Here is the souvenir sheet issue by Indonesia on the 15th of April 2008.

The souvenir sheet from Japan has been issued on the 23rd of June 2008 (the picture I show is a specimen version coming from Japan post website).

Why do I speak about this issue? Because last week I had the very great pleasure to receive five FDC (yes five!) from Indonesia, each of the FDC bearing one of the pair of stamps. On each cover the left stamp is the one picturing an Indonesian subject and the right one pictures a Japanese subject.

The first FDC is franked with the stamps picturing sceneries.

The left stamp pictures the Kelimutu mountain. In the local "keli' means mountain and "mutu" means boiling, the Kelimutu being a volcano crater. This volcano has three summit crater lakes of varying colors namely Wine Red, Green, and Dark Blue. The western most of the three lakes, Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of old People) is usually blue, whereas Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) is green and Tiwu Ata Polo (Enchanted Lake) is red.After an earthquake in 1992 the level of the lakes dropped and changed color overnight to their current configuration of green, chocolate and black. This special characteristic of the lake water gives its nickname "The Three Colored Lakes."

The right stamp pictures the very famous Fuji Mountain. At 3,766 m, Fuji Mountain is the highest mountain in Japan and also an active volcano whose last recorded eruption was in 1707-1708. Its symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan. On the foreground the stamp pictures another symbol of Japan: the cherry blossom.

The second FDC bears stamps picturing temples.

On the left, the stamp pictures the Borobudur temple, located in central Java. It is one of the largest Buddhist monuments in the world, and has been awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monument is decorated with 504 Buddha statues. Following the decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdom in Java in the 14th century, the temple was abandoned and buried for centuries and was rediscovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Raffles, The British ruler of Java. Borobudur temple has since been preserved through several restorations.
The other stamp shows the Tō-ji temple, a Buddhist temple. Its name means East Temple. The pagoda of Tō-ji temple is 54.8 m high, and is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. It dates from the Edo period. The pagoda has been, and continues to be, a symbol of Kyoto. Entrance into the pagoda itself is permitted only a few days a year.

As you can see the top of both temples are pictured on the nice first day cancel of all the FDC.

The third FDC pictures flowers.

The left stamp pictures the plant that produces the largest individual flower on earth: Raflesia arnoldii. This plant lives like a parasite and is, in this sense, quite similar to fungi. The particularity of this flower, beside its size, is that it stinks like rotten flesh!
The other stamp pictures the national flower of Japan, cherry blossom.

The fourth FDC pictures traditional musical instruments.

On the left side is pictured an instrument called Anklung. It is originated from West Java and is made of bamboos that are struck to produce the sound. On the left side you can see a biwa, a Japanese lute, a four strings instrument which came to Japan from Persia through China during the Nara period (710-759 AD).

The last FDC is franked with stamps picturing fishes

The left stamp pictures an Asian arowana, a fish sometimes called dragon fish because of its resemblance with a Chinese dragon. The second stamp pictures a Nishiki-goi, a popular fish also known as the swimming jewels of the Orient. They are kept in outdoor ponds all over the world.

I rather like this joint issue between Japan and Indonesia, I really like the idea of mixing landscapes, cultures and other aspect of both countries within a same souvenir sheet. I also like the fact that the Japanese souvenir sheet is issued with a background picturing an Indonesian temple and that the Indonesian sheet pictures on its background a Japanese shrine.

A last remark about the FDC. They are all cancelled from the date of issue of the Indonesian stamps, the 15th of April 2008, but I just received them last week. I don’t think that they have taken so much time to come from Indonesia to France. But it seems that the Indonesian postal administration allow the sending of such FDC, even far after the day of the cancellation. As I already said here on my blog, this is not possible in France. FDC can be posted only the day of their cancellation.

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