Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Zealand's Unofficial National Anthem on Stamps?

New Zealand has honored Engelbert Humperdinck by releasing a stamp based on his song ‘Ten Guitars’. Engelbert released ‘Ten Guitars’ as a b-side in 1967. It was also on his debut album ‘Release Me’. However, despite originally be used as more filler than thriller the song took on a life of its own in New Zealand and is now considered the country's unofficial national anthem. There was even a Facebook petition to have it made the national anthem.‘Ten Guitars’ is said to be one of the most played songs at parties in New Zealand.The 60-cent ‘Ten Guitars’ stamp features in a set of Kiwiana stamps out now in New Zealand.

Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey; 2 May 1936) is a British pop singer, best known for his hits including "Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)" and "After the Lovin'" as well as "The Last Waltz" ("The Last Waltz with You").

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 20th Anniversary of the Restoration of State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Stamp and Souvenir Sheet

Like other republics of the Soviet Union at the time, Azerbaijan had its own anthem, which was in use until shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Azerbaijan was originally given an anthem in 1944, but a slight change to the lyrics came in 1978 with the removal of Stalin's name and other minor changes. The composer of the anthem's melody also wrote the music for the current Azerbaijani national anthem in 1919 before Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union.

On January 30, 1920, the Azerbaijan government announced a competition to create a national anthem, but in the result of the fall of Azerbaijan to the Soviet Union on April 28, 1920, the anthem was not adopted. On May 27, 1992, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the "Azerbaijan Marsi," which was created in 1919 during the brief independence period, was approved as the State Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The composer of the anthem was Uzeyir Hajibeyov, the same person that composed the music to the anthem used by the Azerbaijan SSR.

Above is the stamp set of national symbols with the lyrics of the national anthem. Below is the souvenir sheet with the flag, map and score of the national anthem. These were issued on November 10, 2011.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Slovenian Anthem Lyrics on Stamps

"Zdravljica" was written by France Prešeren, considered as Slovenia's national poet, as a drinking song (in his original manuscript, the layout of the words resemble a wine glass), but also was seen as politically charged piece when it was written in 1844 as it spoke of pan-Slavic nationalism, which was controversial in Austria-Hungary (which Slovenia was part of at the time). It was finally published in 1848, after revolutions in Austria-Hungary lifted the censorship.

In 1905, Zdravljica was set to music for the first time, the entire poem had a choral composition composed for it by Stanko Premrl, and this was the composition chosen as the Slovenian anthem in September 1989. Six months later, it was specified that the seventh verse is the official anthem, and this remains to this day.

The block above contains the flag and some of the lyrics of the Slovenian national anthem. It was issued on 2001.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Qin Shi Huang's Teracotta Army in Xian

Some Chinese scholars labelled Emperor Qin Shi Huang as a tyrannical megalomaniac who ordered the killing of his writers and philosophers and burned books written about previous kings and rulers so that Chinese history begins with him. But these seemingly evil ways ironically resulted into today's magnificent structures (Great Wall) and discoveries. One of these great discoveries were Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta army. These thousand-years-buried treasures are located about 1.5 kilometers east of the Emperor QinShihuang's mausoleum, symbolizing the main defending force that guarded the capital before Emperor Qin died. These soldiers were to accompany him in the afterlife. Until today, no one has seen the Emperors body due to the elaborate network of traps and poisons (mercury) he designed while he was alive.

The Terracotta soldier were never mentioned in the historical records until Pit 1 (first excavated area) was discovered in March 1974 by local Chinese farmers while drilling a well. During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet the farmer who discovered the site and had our special Terracotta book, which is available only in Xian, autographed by him. Then years later, archaeologists began the explorations and excavations of the Terracotta Army. On October 1, 1979 Emperor Qin's Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum was opened to the public about 35 kilometers East of Xian, China. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum receives over 2,000,000 Chinese and Foreign Tourists a year with an annual ticket income of around 150 million yuan.

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor was included as a World Heritage Site on the basis of Cultural Criteria I, III, IV and VI.

Criterion I. Because of their exceptional technical and artistic qualities, the terracotta warriors and horses, and the funerary carts in bronze are major works in the history of Chinese sculpture prior to the reign of the Han dynasty.

Criterion III. The army of statues bears unique testimony to the military organization in China at the time of the Warring Kingdoms (475-221 B.C.) and that of the short-lived Empire of a Thousand Generations (221-210 B.C.). The direct testimony of the objects found in situ (lances, swords, axes, halberds, bows, arrows, etc.) is evident. The documentary value of a group of hyper-realistic sculptures where no detail has been neglected from the uniforms of the warriors, their arms, to even the horses' halters- is enormous. Furthermore, the information to be gleaned from the statues concerning the craft and techniques of potters and bronze-workers is immeasurable.

Criterion IV. The mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang is the largest preserved one in China. It is a unique architectural ensemble whose layout echoes the urban plan of the capital, Xianyang, with the imperial palace enclosed by the walls of the city, themselves encircled by other walls. This capital of the Qin (to which succeeded on the present site of Xian the capitals of the Han, Sui, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties) is a microcosm of the Zhongguo (Middle Country) that Qin Shi Huang wanted both to unify (he imposed throughout the land a single system of writing, money, weights and measures) and to protect from the barbarians that could arrive from any direction (the army which watches over the dead emperor faces outward from the tomb).

Criterion VI. The mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang is associated with an event of universal significance: the first unification of the Chinese territory by a centralized state created by an absolute monarch in 221 B.C.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This cover was published in Czechoslovakia in 1948 for its 11th SOKOL Convention.

"SOKOL" is a sport organization, Czechoslovak Sokol Community and Prague Sokol were played an important role by events around the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic. This FDC includes 4 special overstamped stamps with the text:" PRAGUE 1948 Nationwide SOKOL Convention". On the cachet, we can see the words and music of Czechoslovak Anthem "Where is My Home" in Czech language. The size of the cover is 22 x 11 cm / 8.6 x 4.3 inches.

The FDC Cover for SOKOL Convention Prague 1948 with Czechoslovak Anthem and for occasional stamps.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

'O Canada' on the 2011 Canadian Flag Definitive Stamps Series

The sheer number of places where the Canadian flag is found was the creative impetus to this stamp series. According to Liz Wong, Stamp Design Manager for the series, the challenge was to take a very common but much beloved image like the flag, an image people are familiar with seeing on a stamp, but approach it in a fresh new way and present the flag in ways in which it’s actually used. “The Canadian Pride series draws your attention to both the common – and uncommon – places the flag appears.”

The five Permanent domestic stamps in this year’s issue demonstrate both personal and official appearances of the flag; on a traveller’s backpack, a hot air balloon, the Canadarm, and both a Canadian soldier’s and a search and rescue expert’s uniforms.

The stylized “O” (for “O Canada”) not only acts as a symbol of the national anthem, it also serves as a means of focusing attention on the flag and its surroundings.

Liz Wong adds that “by framing the visual with the “O” of “O Canada”, this stamp series is totally and unapologetically patriotic.”

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Iranian Anthem Composer, Ruhollah Khaleqi, on Stamp

On July 11, 2011, Iran issued a stamp on musician and composer Ruhollah Khaleqi known for his composition of Iran’s former national anthem "O, Iran". The stamp, printed in commemoration of the musician, was unveiled during a ceremony held on the side section of Iran’s National Orchestra performance in the presence of Iranian tar virtuoso Hossein Alizadeh.Khaleqi was brought up in a family of music lovers. He was a student of celebrated composer and musician Ali-Naqi Vaziri.His other credits include several books on music under the titles “History of Iranian Music” and “A View on Iranian Music.”

Rūhollāh Khāleqi (1906, Kerman, Iran – November 12, 1965, Salzburg, Austria) , also spelled as Khaleghi, was a prominent Iranian musician, composer, conductor and author. Ruhollah Khāleghi was born in Mahan, a small town near Kerman, in a musically minded family. He first became acquainted with the tar, but later started to learn to play the violin. As soon as Ali-Naqi Vaziri established his School of Music, Khāleghi left school and joined Vaziri's school, where he studied for eight years. Soon he became his master's assistant and was placed in charge of teaching music theory. He later continued his education and obtained a B.A. degree in Persian Language and Literature from the University of Tehran.

In 1944 Khāleghi established the National Music Society and in 1949, thanks to the efforts of this great artist, the School of National Music was founded. After his first journey to the former U.S.S.R. in 1955, he became involved in the Iran-Soviet Society and was selected as a member of its Board of Directors.

He also began to serve as the director of the Payām-e-Novin Magazine. His work, The History of Persian Music, which was published in two volumes, took shape during these years. His other published works include: Harmony of Western Music, Theory of Eastern Music, and Theory of Persian Music.

For many years Khāleghi worked as a musical advisor for Radio Iran and was one of the founders of the program known as Gol'hā (Flowers). He also conducted the Gol'hā Orchestra, for which he composed many pieces and revised the original compositions of his contemporaries as well as older masters, such as Āref and Sheydā. Although revised, the compositions retained all their original characteristics.

Khāleghi's compositions are not limited to what he wrote for Gol'hā. In addition to such masterpieces as Mey-e Nāb (Pure Wine), Āh-e Sahar (Sigh at Dawn), Hālā Cherā (Why Now?), and Chang-e Rudaki (Rudaki's Harp), he composed many other lyrical pieces and hymns, which were mostly patriotic. These include such works as Ey Iran (see Gholām-Hossein Banān) and the Hymn for Azarbaijan. Khāleghi established The National Music Society and Persian National Music Conservatory in 1949 in Tehran.

He died in 1965 in Salzburg, Austria and was buried in Zahir o-dowleh cemetery, Darband, Tehran.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

China Anthem Composer, Ni Er, on Postcard

Nie Er (February 14, 1912 — July 17, 1935), was a Chinese composer. He is known for composing the national anthem of the People's Republic of China, the March of the Volunteers. In numerous Shanghai magazines he went by the English name "George Njal".

Nie Er's ancestors were from Yuxi, Yunnan, in southwest China. He was born in Kunming, Yunnan. From an early age Nie Er displayed an interest in music. From 1918 he studied at the Kunming Normal School's Associated Primary School. In his spare time, he learnt to play traditional instruments such as the dizi, erhu, sanxian, and yueqin, and became the conductor of the school's Children's Orchestra. In 1922 he entered the Private Qiushi Primary School (Senior Section), and in 1925 entered Yunnan Provincial Number One Combined Middle School.

In 1927 Nie Er graduated from Yunnan Provincial Number One Combined Middle School, and entered Yunnan Provincial Number One Normal School. At school, he participated in the Book Club, and organised the "Nine-Nine Music Society", which performed within the school and outside. During this time, he learnt to play the violin and the piano.

In June 1931, Nie Er entered the "Mingyue Musical Drama Society" as a violinist. In July 1932 he published A Short Treatise on Chinese Song and Dance, in which he criticised the Drama Society's president, Li Jinhui, as a result of which he was forced to leave the society. Prior to joining the Lianhua Film Studio on November 1932, he took part in shaping the Bright Moonlight Song and Dance Troupe. He later joined the musical group of the "Friends of the Soviet Union Society". He also organised the "Chinese Contemporary Music Research Group", which participated in the Leftist Dramatist's Union. In 1933, Nie Er joined the Communist Party of China.

In April 1934, Nie Er joined the Baak Doi record company and managed the musical section. In the same year he founded the Pathé National Orchestra. This was a prolific year for Nie Er in terms of musical output. In early 1935, he composed the March of the Volunteers. In January 1935 Nie Er became the director of the musical department of Lianhua Number Two Studio.

On July 17, 1935, he drowned while swimming in Japan, at the age of 23. He might have been en route to the Soviet Union, passing through Japan to receive training, sent by the Chinese Communist Party. Some suspect that he was killed by Japanese right-wing radicals. Others suspect that he was killed by Chinese Nationalists, as he was in Japan to flee from them. However, as he disappeared while swimming with his friends, killing him was difficult, and swimming in mid-July is a bit early there, so he most likely drowned. He was found by the local rescue team the following day. According to them and the police, the condition from his body was not different from that of ordinary drowned bodies.

Nie Er wrote a total of 37 pieces in his life, all in the two years before his death. A significant proportion of these songs reflected working class life and struggles. He often collaborated with lyricist Tian Han.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Galician Anthem Composer and Lyricist on a Special FDC Cancel

Pascual Veiga Iglesias ( April 9 of 1842 - Madrid , July 12 of 1906 ) was a musician, musical director, organist and composer of the National Anthem of Galicia.

Veiga started his musical studies as a child in the choir of the Cathedral Mindoniense. At thirteen he began to teach music theory and harmony in the chapel of the cathedral. In 1964 he moved to La Coruña and served as organist of the Church of Our Lady of the Field. In 1865 he was appointed vice president of Section Music Society Youth Fraternity. His dedication to music led him to win a prize in 1877 with the Glee Club Bragantino. He left year later, and founded the Glee Club Corunna. In 1880 he was invited by the Society of Floral Games of Pontevedra , and premiered his most emblematic work, the Alborada Gallega. Two years later he founded El Nuevo Orfeon, which soon became known as el Orfeon Echo, and that continues today. In 1889 he founded the Choral Society called Corunna Number 4, a group that won the gold medal and the Academic Palms during the Universal Exhibition of Paris of 1889. In 1896 he was living in Madrid, where he works as director of the Centro Galego Matritense Choir and at the same time developing the teaching at the National Conservatory of Music. He was also organist at the Church of St. Dominic of Betanzos and Collegiate A Coruña.

He died in 1906 in Madrid, and in 1912 his remains were transferred to Mondoñedo to be buried in a mausoleum dedicated by his admirers and friends. Six months after his death, the Galician Center Gran Teatro of Havana premiered ' The Pin , poem by Eduardo Pondal put in music by Veiga, who later was considered the anthem of Galicia.

Above is a FDC with a special cancel featuring the Galician anthem composer Pascual Veiga and lyricist Eduardo Pondal

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Anthem of Taiwan on Metered FDC

This is the First Day Cover of 2011 ROCUPEX Taipei Stamps Exhibition Meter Stamp from Formosa (Taiwan), Republic of China. The 2011 ROCUPEX Taipei Stamps Exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Republic (Oct 07-12,2011). This FDC, issued on October 7, 2011 features the image of National Anthem of the Republic of China. This cover is a design error with 2 wrong Chinese characters in the National Anthem of the meter stamp. The special meter shows the score of the National anthem. The anthem lyrics in traditional Chinese script is seen on the cachet. This FDC has a face value of 25 new Taiwan dollar.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Liberian Anthem Lyrics on an Unissued Souvenir Sheet

Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire. Liberia, which means "Land of the Free", was founded as an independent nation by free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans. Recently it has witnessed two civil wars, the Liberian Civil War (1989–1996), and the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003), that have displaced hundreds of thousands and destroyed its economy.

The national anthem of Liberia, "All Hail, Liberia Hail" was composed by Olmstead Luca in 1869. The words to the anthem of this second oldest independent African nation were written by the nation's third president, Daniel Bashiel Warner, and adopted upon independence in 1847. Presumably, the anthem first had a different melody, as the current music was written in 1860.

Above is an unissued souvenir sheet featuring the Liberian anthem lyrics.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rota- Anthem of the Polish National-Territorial Region

The Polish National-Territorial Region (Polish: Polski Kraj Narodowo-Terytorialny) was an autonomous region in Lithuania, self-proclaimed by the local Poles on 6 September 1990. The region included areas surrounding Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, where Poles formed the majority (60–90%). This Eastern part of Lithuania had been part of Poland (from 1922) before being attached to Lithuania under the Mutual Assistance Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1939.

The autonomy region with capital in Naujoji Vilnia included 4,930 km² and population of 215,000 (66% of them Poles). The Polish autonomous movement was related to the Yedinstvo movement and had tacit support from Moscow (thus, when following the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania the Soviets applied a blockade against Lithuania, the areas of Eastern Lithuania with significant minority population were mostly spared of the blockade, with the aim of gaining minorities' support for Moscow). In the region, the Polish Red-and-White flags were used as official flag and Rota was used as an anthem in the region.

Rota's lyrics were written in 1908 by Maria Konopnicka. The music was composed two years later by Feliks Nowowiejski. Konopnicka's poem came into being as a protest against the German Empire's oppression and suppression of Polish culture in German-occupied western Poland — lands that from the late 18th century after the Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to 1918 were under Prussian — and later, German — rule.

Rota was first sung publicly during a patriotic demonstration in Kraków on July 15, 1910, held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Polish-Lithuanian victory over the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald. The anthem quickly became popular across partitioned Poland. Until 1918, Rota served as the anthem of the Polish Scouting movement. After Poland regained independence in 1918, Rota, in 1927, found itself under consideration for a time as a possible Polish national anthem.

The Lithuanian government declared the formation of the Polish autonomous district in Lithuania unconstitutional. After the August Coup of the Soviet hardliners had failed, the Lithuanian parliament suspended on 3 September 1991 the democratically elected local councils that had sought autonomy or secession from Lithuania, thus abolishing the anthem.

Above is a FDC of the composer of Rota, Feliks Nowowiejski, issued by Poland in 2010

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The New National Anthem of Libya

Libya, Libya, Libya (also known as Ya Beladi, "Oh my country!"), composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab, is the new national anthem of Libya. He also composed the music for the anthems of Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. The anthem was used until the monarchy was abolished in a coup by Moammar Qadaffi in 1969, when it was replaced with a new anthem. It was originally the national anthem from independence in 1951 until 1969 when King Idris I was overthrown by a Coup d'état led by Muammar al-Gaddafi. Gaddafi adopted the Egyptian marching song Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) as the national anthem of the newly proclaimed Libyan Arab Republic. The anthem was a Muslim call to prayer and a statement of faith composed by Abdalla Shams El-Din and lyrics written by Mahmoud El-Sherif.

During the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libya, Libya, Libya was declared the new national anthem and restored by the transitional government.

Above is a first day cover of the Libyan anthem composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab issued by Egypt.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Rising Sun of Argentina as Described in the First Version of its Anthem

It is still unknown who designed the coat of arms, but it is often mentioned that there were three men: Alvear, Monteagudo and Vieytes, but it is known that a few years before, President Bernardino Rivadavia asked the Peruvian Antonio Isidoro Castro to create an Argentine coat of arms, but the two schemes were never found. The coat of arms is a figure, in which we find the following symbols: At the top is the famous sun symbol of Argentina, the gold-yellowed Sun of May, also found on the Flag of Argentina. The rising sun symbolizes the rising of Argentina, as described in the first version of the Argentine National Anthem: it says "Se levanta a la faz de la tierra una nueva y gloriosa nación," meaning "A new and glorious nation rises to the surface of earth." It must be noticed how the verb "rise" (and so in Spanish) can be used to describe the motion of the Sun.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kazach Anthem Composers- Mukan Tulebayev, Eugeny Brusilovsky and Latif Khamidi on Stamps and Postcard

The national anthem of the Republic of Kazakhstan or National Anthem of the Republic of Kazakhstan was the title of the old national anthem of Kazakhstan, when it was adopted as the anthem from 1992 to early 2006. Upon independence in December 1991, the melody of the Kazakh SSR anthem, composed by Mukan Tulebayev, Eugeny Brusilovsky and Latif Khamidi, was retained; and new lyrics were adopted in 1992, written by Muzafar Alimbayev, Kadyr Myrzaliyev, Tumanbai Moldagaliyev and Zhadyra Daribayeva.

On January 7, 2006, "My Kazakhstan", written in 1956, was adopted as the new anthem, with modified lyrics.

We are a valiant people, sons of honor,
And all we've sacrificed to gain our freedom.
Emerging from malicious grip of fate, from hell of fire,
We scored a victory of glory and success.

Soar high up in the sky, oh, eagle of freedom,
Call up to harmony, agreement and accord!
For hero's might and strength is in the nation,
Just as the unity is nation's razing sword.

While honoring our mothers and respecting
The cream of cream of our rising nation
We welcomed all ill-starred and struck by ruin...
Our homeland, the steppe, a sacred cradle
Of friendship and accord
Gave all a shelter and a hearty refuge.


We've overcome the hardships
Let the past serve bitter lesson
But ahead we face a radiant future.
We bequeath our sacred legacy implying our mother tongue
And sovereignty and valour and traditions
So dearly cherished by our forefathers
As true mandate to future generations.

Dobri Hristov and the Bulgarian National Anthem

Mila Rodino ("Dear Motherland") is based on the music and text of the song Gorda Stara Planina ("Stately Stara Planina") composed by a 22-year old student, Tsvetan Radoslavov, as he left home to fight in the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885. Stara Planina is the traditional Bulgarian name of the Balkan mountains, extending 560 km from East Serbia, through central Bulgaria to the Black Sea. Radoslavov was born in Svishtov in 1863, and he later graduated in philosophy in Leipzig. His original song, Gorda Stara Planina was adapted by the composer Dobri Hristov in 1905 and became the national anthem of Bulgaria in 1963, replacing the previous anthem, "Balgariyo Mila" (Dear Bulgaria) composed by Georgi Zlatev-Tscherkin, Svetoslav Obretenov and Georgi Dimitri. Radoslavov was also a well-known scientist in Bulgaria and despite invitations to work in Vienna, Leipzig and Prague, he returned to Bulgaria to teach European and ancient languages, psychology, ethics and logic at the Third High School for Boys in Sofia.

Incidentally, Dobri Hristov (1875-1941) was one of the most important Bulgarian composers of the 20th century. Born in Varna, Bulgaria, he graduated from the Prague Conservatory in 1903 (the director at the time was none other than Antonín Dvořák). Hristov wrote orchestral and choral works using elements of Bulgarian folklore. The text of the anthem has been changed on several occasions, most recently in 1990. Bulgaria also has a Royal anthem composed by Emanuil Manolov, and the lyrics by Major General Georgi Agura.

Above is a stamp of Dobri Hristov issued by Bulgaria in 1975 to celebrate the centennial of his birth.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Macedonian Anthem Composer,Todor Skalovski, on Stamp

Todor Skalovski (born 21 January 1909, Tetovo, Ottoman Empire – died 1 July 2004, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia) was a famous Macedonian composer, chorus and orchestra conductor.

He was the founder of the First Macedonian State Symphony Orchestra, (1945. - 1948) and was editor in chief of Radio Skopje and chief conductor Radioorkestra (1948 - 1954). He directed and conducted the Skopje Opera, since 1954 and later became the director and conductor of the Philharmonic Republic of Macedonia. His compositions were mostly vocal works. Other works include October Cantata II, Suite Baltepe, Macedonian Oro, 2 rhapsodies, Zalez, The size ANIJA (on John Kukuzela), Prispivna song. He is best known as the composer of the Macedonian anthem "Denes Nad Makedonija".

Above is a stamp of Macedonian composers born in 1909. Todor Skalovski is the composer on the left. The stamp was issued in 2009.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Naphtali Herz Imber, Israeli Anthem Lyricist

Naphtali Herz Imber was a Jewish poet and Zionist who wrote the lyrics of Hatikvah, the national anthem of the State of Israel.

Naphtali was born in Złoczów (now Zolochiv, Ukraine), a town in Galicia, Austrian Empire. He began writing poetry at the age of 10 and several years later received an award from Emperor Franz Joseph for a poem on the centenary of Bukovina's joining to the Austrian Empire. In his youth he traveled in Hungary, Serbia, and Romania.

In 1882 Imber moved to Palestine as a secretary of Sir Laurence Oliphant. In 1886 in Jerusalem he published his first book of poems entitled Morning Star. One of the book's poems was Tikvateinu ("Our Hope"); its very first version was written yet in 1877 in Iaşi, Romania. This poem soon became the lyrics of the Zionist anthem and later the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah.

In 1887 he returned to Europe and lived in London; then traveled again, visited India and finally moved to the Unites States in 1892. Imber made a mockery of the serious and had a sardonic vulgar wit. He also translated the Omar Khayyam into Hebrew. He died in New York in 1909 from the effects of chronic alcoholism; in 1953 was re-interred in Jerusalem.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gastroenterology on Stamps 2

This is the second of the special series on Gastroenterology on stamps. Click here to see first series. Featured here are the first day cover of the 3rd Panhellinic Congress of Gastroenterology issued by Greece in 1974, three special covers from Romania issued in 1993 for the National Symposium of Gastroenterology and Digestive Endoscopy, which had a special cancel and postmark and a Gastroenterology Week- Protection against AIDS stamp issued by Greece in 1992.

In this connection, the PSDE Commander General, Dr. Jonathan Sandejas is encouraging and inviting all gastroenterologist to join the 2011 Live Endoscopy Boot Camp and Workshop at NKI on August 17-19. Several GI topics will be tackled and "Meet the Masters" session is back. Three international faculties from Singapore, India and Thailand will share their expertise. Hope to see you there.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The National Anthems of India and Bangladesh on One Miniature Sheet

Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he was the first non-European Nobel laureate. His poetry in translation was viewed as spiritual, and this together with his mesmerizing persona gave him a prophet-like aura in the West. His "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal.

A Pirali Brahmin from Kolkata, Tagore had been writing poetry since he was eight years old. At age 16, he published his first substantial poetry under the pseudonym Bhanushingho ("Sun Lion") and wrote his first short stories and dramas in 1877. Tagore achieved further note when he denounced the British Raj and supported Indian independence. His efforts endure in his vast canon and in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.

He also wrote and composed the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh.

Above is the Bangladesh New Limited Issue Miniature Sheet of 2011 on Nobel Laureate with Nobel Literature Medal Rabindranath Tagore on His 150th Birth Anniversary. The National Flag & national Anthem of both countries are written on both side of the Miniature Sheet. Only 250 FDC's were issued.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Official Anthem of the Free State of Bavaria in FDC

The Bayernhymne (Hymn of Bavaria) is the official anthem of the Free State of Bavaria.

The melody of the song was written by Max Kunz in 1835. The text for the original first three stanzas was written by Michael Öchsner. Both men were members of the Bürger-Sänger-Zunft München (Citizen-Singers-Guild Munich), that first performed the song on December 15, 1860. In 1946, the poet Joseph Maria Lutz wrote a new third stanza as a replacement for the 'Königsstrophe' (King's Stanza), since after the abdication of King Ludwig III in 1918, Bavaria has been without a king. He also replaced the 'Deutsche Erde' (German earth) in the first stanza with 'Heimaterde' (native soil).

In 1946, it was also officially recognized as the national anthem of Bavaria, and on July 29, 1966, the then prime minister of Bavaria, Alfons Goppel, chose the version written by Joseph Maria Lutz to be the official version. In 1980, the Bavarian minister-president Franz Josef Straub, changed the official version to contain just the first two stanzas and switched 'Heimaterde' back to 'Deutsche Erde'.

The song, like most national anthems, contains many symbolic representations, including repeated allusions to the colors white and blue, Bavaria's national colors, especially describing Bavaria's Himmel, which can refer to both sky and heaven.

The First Day Cover above features Max Kunz, the composer of the Bavarian Hymn issued by Germany in 2010, the 150th Anniversary.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jose Rizal's Original Pencil Sketch of Leonor Rivera

It was truly an honor to have seen the original pencil sketch of one of Rizal's "passion" and probably his only true love- Leonor Rivera. The avid Rizal collector who bought this sketch paid more than a million for its acquisition. He had a choice between this piece and a sketch of Josephine Bracken, but he chose the "passion" over the wife. Most of Leonor Rivera's (the original Maria Clara) pictures posted in the net are crayon sketches or reproductions. This one is the original pencil sketch.

Leonor Rivera was a native of Dagupan, Pangasinan. She was 13 years old when she and Rizal met in Manila. Apparently, they were first cousins, but they later became childhood sweethearts, a love that was mostly nurtured through love letters, as Rizal had to go to Europe for his studies. Being Rizal's sweetheart for eleven years, she played the greatest influence in keeping him from falling in love with other women during his travels. Unfortunately, Leonor’s mother disapproved of her daughter’s relationship with Rizal, who was then a known Filibuster. She hid from Leonor all of Rizal's letters sent to her. Leonor believing that Rizal had already forgotten her, sadly consented to marry her mother's choice, the Englishman Henry Kipping, a Manila-Dagupan railroad engineer. News of their marriage devastated Rizal. Leonor Rivera died at childbirth at a tender age of 25.

She was immortalized by Rizal as the character María Clara in the Spanish-language novel Noli Me Tangere.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Unique Rizal Stamp

I have several Jose Rizal stamps in my collection, but the 1941 apple-hued 2c Commonwealth Regular is one of a kind. This stamp features the young Rizal as rendered by the New York photographer Elaine Rawlinson. The image on this stamp was copied from a menu card which won a stamp design contest sponsored by the Asociacion Filateleca de Filipinas. The stamp cause quite a stir among keen philatelist who noticed that Rizal's hair was parted on the right instead of the usual left! This is the only Rizal stamp which portrays his hair as such.

This stamp also became the first stamp of a series of postage stamps bearing the inscription "United States of America- Commonwealth of the Philippines". This replaced the the 1935 Commonwealth overprint series and as the last of the pre-war issues.

I acquired a few of the stamps bearing this inscription and these include the 1906 Jose Rizal PI-USA stamp- the first Jose Rizal stamp ever issued and the first stamp featuring a Filipino, the 1935 Pictorial Stamp 2 c Red Rizal Issue, the 1936 75th Birth Anniversary Issue, and the 2c sepia 1946 Rizal Regular and Official Issue released on May 28, 1946. This stamp was the last stamp released by the American Administrations Commonwealth because on July 4 of that same year, the Republic of the Philippines was born.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Ancient Culture Street of Tianjin

The Tianjin Ancient Culture Street dates back 600 years ago. It stands in the key section in upstream Haihe River, which is located in Nankai district of Tianjin. Covering an area of 224,200 sq meters, it used to be one of earliest water transport docklands in Tianjin, one of the busiest cities of commerce and trade in ancient China. As a cultural precinct, Tianjin Ancient Culture Street is well known by the local and overseas tourists alike.

As the result of the Tian Hou Temple expansions, and renovations of the Yu Huang Ge and Haihe Lou building, this street, with its fine landscape and distinctive architectural style, has been a flourishing cultural and tourist area.

Standing at the center of Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street, Tianhou Palace, originally built in 1326, is one of only three Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) Temples in the world (the other two are Fujian Mazu Temple and Beigang Chaotian Temple on Taiwan Island). Tianhou Palace is now the Folk-custom Museum of Tianjin and displays many folk crafts and cultural relics of ancient times. Yuhuang Cabinet is the only building that was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in Tianjin, and is the oldest structure in the street. From the top of the two-floor Cabinet, visitors have a bird's-eye view of the whole street. Another building, Tong Qingli (ancient residential houses), built in 1913 and lying to the east of the cultural street, is the largest architectural edifice that combines both eastern and western architectural elements.

Looking closely, visitors will note that buildings along the street are all built with 'blue bricks', and that the doors and windows have colorful paintings drawn upon them. These paintings range from stories of legendary and historical figures to flowers and birds. Some retell stories contained in Chinese classical novels, such as The Dream of a Red Mansion (one the four Chinese classical novels) and Song of Eternal Sorrow, which is a story about the Empress Yang Kwei Fei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Visitors who are interested in Chinese traditional handicrafts will also appreciate another Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street attraction - the hundreds of stores selling a wide variety of folk handicrafts. These include the famous Yang Liuqing New Year Paintings and Niren Zhang Painted Sculptures. Visitors who are fond of Chinese curios, such as jade items, cloisonné and potteries, will also be able to find many examples of these for sale here. The street is also a favorite place to sample the delicious Tianjin local snacks. The local delicacies include Goubuli Steamed Dumplings, Erduoyan (the Ear-hole Lane) Fried Glutinous Cakes and tea soup.

Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street is designed as a place for tourists to experience Chinese folk custom, and as such, contains examples of nearly all the Tianjin local culture in one place. For an added experience, when visiting the street on March 23rd (lunar calendar), visitors will be lucky enough to find the Huanghui Fair, which is held annually on this date. During the Fair you will see performances of stilt walking, dragon lantern, land boat and lion dances.

The set of 4 stamps above features Tianjin sculptures issued in 1996.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou

The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands. This area is one of the latest to have earned the title UNESCO World Heritage site.

The West Lake has influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries and bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural tradition of improving landscapes to create a series of vistas reflecting an idealized fusion between humans and nature.

Hangzhou is famous for three things: its water, its fertile and picturesque countryside, and ancient tradition- all three combined in a perfectly brewed cup of Longjing tea. A visit to the Longjing Tea Plantation makes for a nice side trip from Hangzhou's main attractions. About 30 minutes by bicycle from downtown, situated just southwest of West Lake, the village of Longjing presents visitors with secluded paths running through a terraced landscape with tea growing on all sides. We were able to witness the harvesting and processing of the tea and sample different grades and varieties. A demonstration of the art of tea drinking was both informative and entertaining.

Ideally made with water straight from the Dragon Well and leaves picked from the terraces of the Longjing Plantation, a cup of this delicate green tea connects you with some two thousand years of history, going back to the second century AD when Dragon Well water was discovered and combined with green tea leaves lightly fried to stop the oxidation process and preserve the best of their flavor and nutrients. We learned from our guide that the new budding leaf is reserved only for royalty, hence the term "Empress Tea".

We also visited the Residence of Hu Xueyan, a wealthy businessman from Hangzhou in the late 1800’s. His residence is located in southern Hangzhou not far from shore of West Lake. Hu originally made his fortune as a banker, but expanded his business to pawnbroker, import-export, real estate, and finally made is biggest fortune as the founder of a Chinese herbal medicine company. He built his house in 1872, and it was a huge complex and covers at least a couple of acres. Included in that area are extensive garden areas, a huge complex of artificial caves, and all sorts of rooms for family, servants, guests, eating, reading, etc. The majority of the buildings were built of a dark brown wood that looks very similar to teak, but one large section of buildings is built of a lighter honey-colored wood. Hu’s descendants mortgaged the house and lost it after his death and it passed though a series of owners until the provincial government acquired it, restored it, and turned it into a museum of sorts.

The Supattra Land Orchard in Rayong

Supattra Land Orchard is a fruit farm located in Rayong, Thailand. Rayong is a city located on the shore of the Gulf of Thailand, in the east coast region. It is the capital of Rayong Province, and covers the Tambon Tha Pradu and Pak Nam and parts of Tambon Choeng Noen and Noen Phra, all within Mueang Rayong district. As of 2005 the population was 54,641. Its main industries include fishing, chemicals and auto industries. It also grows some fruits and is the main producer of Thailand's fish sauce.

After our visit to the picturesque Pattaya, we made a side trip to this beautiful province to see some of its attractions. This fruit lover's paradise is located in the Bankhai district. We were able to visit the Supattra Land Orchard and savor its fruity gustatory delights. The orchard is open to the public and for a minimal fee of 120 Baht, guests can taste any fruit once can see in the vast farm. Some of the fruits here include the durian, rambutan, mango, grape, star fruit, dragon fruit, rose apple, and longan. The orchard is open daily for tourists from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dr. Jose Rizal @ 150 on Stamps

In line with 150th birth centenary of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, several tourism and philatelic related activities are ongoing. The Department of Tourism (DoT) opened the "Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150," a year-long tour that allows tourists to retrace the national hero's steps by visiting as many as 27 Rizal sites in the country. Participants will be given "Lakbay passports" and a special stamp for every Rizal site they visit.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines, in partnership with the Philippine Postal Corporation, also held a stamp design contest entitled “150TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF JOSE RIZAL STAMP DESIGN CONTEST” with the theme Rizal: Haligi ng Bayan. The contest was participated by students, amateurs and professionals and judging was held last March 1, 2011 at the NHCP Building. Dir. Jeremy Barns of the National Museum; Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak from Philippine Postal Corporation, Mr. Danilo Pangan from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Mr. Fidel Sarmiento from the Art Association of the Philippines, served as judges.

The Philippine Postal Corporation, meanwhile, is issuing commemorative stamps and souvenir sheets that honor Rizal. The postal service is also hosting an exhibit of Rizaliana stamps and other memorabilia at the Manila Central Post Office lobby at the Liwasang Bonifacio. The exhibit will run until the 30th of June. Stamps Clubs and Philatelic Societies all aver the country are also exhibiting their Rizal stamp collections.

Cebu City is one of the 27 historic Rizal sites included in the Lakbay Rizal @150. The S.S. España docked in Cebu on August 2, 1896 for a routine one-day stop over. After breakfast on board, Commander Carcinero took Rizal under custody to the Spanish Military Commander of Cebu, Gen. Adulfo Montero in the Military Headquarters located in Fort San Pedro.

Currently some items from the USP Rizal Museum are on exhibit at the the 2nd Floor, Ayala Center in Cebu. These include the original woolen coat and camisa chino shirts worn by the National Hero.

Above is the block of stamps of Rizal issued for his 150th Birth Anniversary in 2011. Below is my Lakbay Rizal Passport stamped during my visit to Fort San Pedro.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

50th Anniversary of the Swiss National Anthem on Stamp

Until the end of the 19th century, there was no Swiss national anthem. The German-language patriotic song Rufst du, mein Vaterland, composed in 1811 by Johann Rudolf Wyss (1743–1818), was the first national anthem, used until 1961. The Swiss Psalm was composed in 1841 by Alberich Zwyssig (1808–1854), with lyrics by Leonhard Widmer (1809–1867). Since then it has been frequently suggested it be adopted as the official anthem, but the Swiss Federal Government has refused several times, wishing to let the people decide what they want to sing on political and military occasions.

The setting of the hymn to the British tune of God Save the Queen led to embarrassing situations when both countries' anthems were played. Therefore it was replaced with another tune in 1961. After a trial period of three years the Swiss tune was adopted indefinitely in 1965. The statute could not be challenged until ten years later but did not totally exclude the possibility of an ultimate change. A competition was set up in 1979 to search for a successor to the anthem. Despite many submissions, none of the others seemed to express the Swiss sentiment.

The Swiss anthem finally got its definitive statutory status in April 1981, the Federal Council maintaining that it was purely a Swiss song suitably dignified and solemn.

The block of 4 stamps above features the Cross (emblem in Swiss flag) with the titles of the anthem in the official languages issued on 2011, the 50th year anniversary.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Malacca Stamp Museum

Malacca's rich cultural history makes it a haven of museums. One of the several museums located here is the The Malacca Stamp Museum (Muzium Setem Melaka) was formerly the Melaka State Museum. It is also known as the "Sekolah Gambar". Originally, it was used as the residence for Dutch dignitaries living in Malacca. On March 19, 1954, G.E. Wisdom, the resident commissioner of Melaka converted this building into a state museum. However in 1982, the museum was moved to the Stradthuys. Now it houses the Melaka Stamp Museum. The Department of Museums and Antiquity has gazetted it as an ancient monument according to section 15 of the Antiquities Act.

The museum showcases various stamps, first day covers, philatelic products and bank notes. The museum opens daily from 9am to 5 pm except Mondays and during Friday lunchtime (12 noon-2:45 pm). It is presently located at the St. Paul's Hill, in between the Islamic Museum and Umno Museum. Admission is 1 Ringgit.

St. Paul's Church Ruins in Malacca

After a 2 hour ride through the wide and smooth highways of Selangor, we arrive at the St Paul’s Church in Malacca, a breezy sanctuary reached after a steep flight of stairs. Originally built by a Portuguese captain in 1521, the church offers views over Malacca from the summit of Bukit St. Paul. Inside the decaying stone interior are intricately engraved tombstones of the Dutch nobility that are buried here. The church was regularly visited by St Francis Xavier, and following his death in China the saint’s body was temporarily interred here for nine months before being transferred to Goa, where it remains today. Visitors can look into his ancient tomb, which is surrounded by a wire fence, in the center of the church and a marble statue of the saint gazes wistfully over the city. When the Dutch completed their own Christ Church in 1590 at the base of the hill, St Paul fell into disuse. Under the British a lighthouse was built and the church eventually ended up as a storehouse for gunpowder. The church has been in ruins for more than 150 years.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Magnificent Batu Caves of Malaysia

On a laid back Sunday afternoon without traffic, once can reach this magnificent destination in 20 minutes from the KL city center. The Batu Cave temple complex rises almost 100 m above the ground and consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m-high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps. My wife had no problems climbing the steps this time, as they were relatively "easier" compared to the Great Wall climb. The cave is located in Gombak district, 13 kilometers (8 mi) north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village.

The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. The limestone forming Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old. Some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people (a tribe of Orang Asli). There was a festival happening during our visit. There were several elaborate dances and traditional Hindu music playing with long queues of devotees inside the temples.

The Batu Caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader. He was inspired by the 'vel'-shaped entrance of the main cave and was inspired to dedicate a temple to Lord Muruga within the caves. A 42.7-metre (140 ft) high statue of Lord Muruga was unveiled in January 2006, having taken 3 years to construct. It is the tallest Lord Muruga statue in the world.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Forbidden City on Stamp

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five hundred years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.

Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 m2 (7,800,000 sq ft). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum's former collection is now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War.

The stamp above features the Forbidden City issued in 1954.