Sunday, 29 January 2012

Enter the Dragon

The dragon roars on these stamps although the dragon dance pictured looks more benign, as it should, because the element of this years dragon is water, which has a calming effect on the dragon's nature.  Sometimes it is called the Rain Dragon in China implying the promise of good crops. The picture is of the corner of a miniature sheet issued this month, consisting of the generic celebration stamp attached to scenes from around the UK of Chinatown celebrations and dragons of the 5 elements. I don't usually get these special issue sheets but couldn't resist purchasing to put on postcards. But  lets leave our modern dragon to travel back in time

to 1885 when the dragon was the obvious choice to use on stamps of China because it was the symbol of the Emperor of China
In 1897 the currency changed from candarins to cents and so too did the dragon design.  Turbulent times were upon China with rebellions and the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95).  The Imperial Chinese Post became
the Chinese Imperial Post in 1898 which was the year of a power struggle between the Guangxu Emperor and his aunt the Empress-Dowager Cixi.  These were the last stamps to feature a dragon for some time, China would become a republic in 1912.

As this year's dragon's element is water here is a Lunar New Year postcard with the watery theme of a fish
which is traditionally served on New Year's Eve (the word for fish is Yu and can sounds like the words for wish and abundance). It is customary to serve a fish at the end of the evening meal, symbolizing a wish for abundance in the coming year. For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and ending for the coming year.  The card had a prepaid second class stamp on the back
also featuring fish ,which could be a double carp.  The carp is closely associated with the dragon because the story goes it was so strong it could swim against the current of the Yellow River and through the "Dragon Gate" and so be transformed into a dragon. 
An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps where we are celebrating Lunar New Year with dragons.


Bob Scotney said...

How do you find out about the issue of minature sheets. I seem to be missing out on knowing what is being issued.
You have a fine collection of stamps from China.

Postcardy said...

I should probably look in my old stamp album and see what I have from China.

I love the postcard art. I was kind of surprised that it had a date but did not feature the zodiac symbol for that year.

viridian said...

All wonderful stamps, and thank you for the quick tour through history. And thank you for participating. I have put a link to this entry in the body of my blog post so people should be able to find you now.

VioletSky said...

That is a fine collection of stamps from China - and thanks for including a history lesson and putting the changes of the stamps into perspective.

I do now wish I had my old stamp collection (most of it given to me from my uncle) as I have only recently started collecting so all of mine are very current. Still, it is nice to see what others have collected.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I love the old Chinese stamps. The dragons look very suitable for turbulent times. It's very interesting about all the symbolism. I've just been watching a programme about Chinese porcelain and it came into that too.