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 PreŇ°eren, 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.