Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Anthem Postmark from Ettelbruck

Ettelbruck  is a commune with city status in central Luxembourg, with a population of approximately 7,500. As of 2005, the town of Ettelbruck itself, which lies in the east of the commune, has a population of 6,191. The town of Warken and Grentzingen are also within the commune. Until 1850, both Erpeldange Schieren were part of the Ettelbruck commune as well, but both towns were detached from Ettelbruck by law on 1 July 1850.

This first day cover was issued on June 13, 1989 with special FDC postmark to commemmorate the 12th Anniversary of the Premiere Execution d Hymne National.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stamps from Suzhou

I got hold of this wonderful tri-fold stamp set from Suzhou post inside the Humble Administrator's Garden  for 75 Yuan.  The first set of four stamps features the land and waters-capes of the garden, the middle set portrays the art of Suzhou and the miniature set shows an example of the flora of the garden.  The garden had a long history of destruction and modification, changing under several owners  (at least 7 times) along the way until inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997.

On the Zhuozhengyuan's site was first built a garden during the Shaoxing period (1131-1162) of the Southern Song Dynasty. Afterwards it changed ownership, and was destroyed or modified continually.  It was the residence and garden of Lu Guimeng, a Tang Dynasty scholar. Later in the Yuan Dynasty it became the Dahong Temple's garden. In 1513 CE, Wang Xiancheng, an Imperial Envoy and poet of the Ming Dynasty created a garden on the site of the dilapidated Dahong Temple which had been burnt during the Ming conquest. In 1510, he retired to his native home of Suzhou under the occasion of his father's death. He had experienced a tumultuous official life punctuated by various demotions and promotions, and gave up his last official post as magistrate of Yongjia county in Zhejiang province, and began to work on the garden. This garden, meant to express his fine taste, received close attention from the renowned artist, Suzhou native, and friend, Wen Zhengming. The garden was named after a verse by the famous scholar official of the Jin Dynasty, Pan Yue, it his prose, An Idle Life, "I enjoy a carefree life by planting trees and building my own house...I irrigate my garden and grow vegetables for me to eat...such a life suits a retired official like me well."

Wang's son lost the garden to pay gambling debts, and it has changed hands many times since. In 1631 CE The eastern garden was divided from the rest and purchased by , Vice Minister of the Justice Board. He added many modifications over the next four years, finishing work in 1635 CE. After completion it was renamed Dwelling Upon Return to the Countryside. The central garden was purchased by Jiang Qi, Governor of Jiangsu in 1738 CE. After extensive renovations he renamed it Garden Rebuilt. In 1860, it became the residence of a Taiping prince, Li Xiucheng , and it was remodelled, and the current aspect of the garden is said to be inherited from this period. Also in 1738 CE the Western Garden was purchased by Ye Shikuan Chief Histographer, and renamed The Garden of Books. The Garden of Books was purchased by a Suzhou merchant, Zhang Lüqian, in 1877 CE and renamed The Subsidiary Garden. In 1949 all three parts of the garden were rejoined by the Chinese government and subsequently opened to the public, then restored in 1952. In 1997 the garden was given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Humble Administrator's Garden- A Unesco Classical Garden of Suzhou

After a quick 30 minute bullet train ride from Shanghai train station distancing 100 kilometers, one arrives at Suzhou, a beautiful ancient city which was originally built in the fourth year of the Zhengde period of the Ming dynasty.  The Humble Administrator's Garden, covering 5.2 hectares is one of the four most famous gardens in China.  It is divided into the eastern, middle and western parts.  Centering around the broad expanse of a lake, the poetic and picturesque garden landscapes and waters-capes with exquisite buildings and luxuriant vegetation, seems to be changing at every step and awakening reminisces of the Venetian scenes in the area south of the lower Yangtze.  These scenes are rustic,archaic, extensive and naturalistic.  As a whole, it has kept the style of the Ming dynasty and was inscribed on the UNESCO World heritage list in 2007.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Yogyakarta's Borobudur

Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside a perforated stupa. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple's design in Gupta architecture reflects India's influence on the region. It also depicts the gupta style from India and shows influence of Buddhism as well as Hinduism. The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument and ascends to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). 

The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades. Evidence suggest Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage

Friday, August 30, 2013

Candi Prambanan Temple

Candi Prambanan or Candi Rara Jonggrang is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) east of the city of Yogyakarta on the boundary between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces. The temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47-metre-high (154 ft) central building inside a large complex of individual temples.Prambanan attracts many visitors from across the world.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is the cultural complex comprising the royal enclosure first built during the Lý Dynasty and subsequently expanded by the Trần, Lê and finally the Nguyễn Dynasty. The ruins roughly coincide with the Hanoi Citadel today. The royal palaces and most of the structures in Thang Long were in varying states of disrepair by the late 19th century with the upheaval of the French conquest of Hanoi. By the 20th century many of the remaining structures were torn down. Only in the 21st century are the ruin foundations of Thang Long Imperial City systematically excavated. The central sector of the imperial citadel was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Site on July 31, 2010 at its session in Brazil.

Remains of the Imperial City were discovered on the site of the former Ba Đình Hall when the structure was torn down in 2008 to make way for a new parliament building. Various archaeological remains unearthed were brought to the National Museum to be exhibited. Thus far only a small fraction of Thăng Long has been excavated. Hanoi Flag Tower Main article: Flag Tower of Hanoi Among the structures related to the Imperial City is the Flag Tower of Hanoi . Rising to a height of 33.4 m (41 m with the flag), it is frequqently used as a symbol of the city. Built in 1812 during the Nguyen Dynasty, the tower, unlike many other structures in Hanoi, was spared during the French colonial rule (1885–1954) as it was used as a military post.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Majestic Halong Bay in Vietnam

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Van Don district. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters. Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem.Ha Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species. 

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000–7000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7000–5000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 5,000–3,500 years ago. Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mout, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy. 500 years ago, Nguyen Trai praised the beauty of Hạ Long Bay in his verse Lộ nhập Vân Đồn, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky". In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of North Vietnam listed Hạ Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication. In 1994, the core zone of Hạ Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site according to criterion vii, and listed for a second time according to criterion viii.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wuzhen- The "Venice of the East"

Wuzhen, a 1300 year old water town on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, is a national scenic area and one of China’s top ten historical and cultural towns. It is also one of China’s most charming towns. Located on the Hangzhou-Jiaxing-Huzhou Plain in north of Zhejiang Province, it is at the center of the golden triangle consisting of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou.

Wuzhen is easily accessed through a number of expressways and national highways. The ancient Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal flows through the town, which is divided by waterways into four areas, Dongzha, Xizha, Nanzha, and Beizha. Since its foundation in 872 A.D., Wuzhen has never changed its name, location, waterways, or way of life. Its traditional buildings have survived hundreds of years of weathering but remain intact today.

In 2001, Wuzhen was named as a candidate for UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. At the end of 2006, it was included in the revised List of China’s Candidates for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. In 2009, Wuzhen was named as the first PATA eco-tourism destination in Mainland China. Wuzhen Tourism Co. Ltd is a large travel service group whose shares are jointly held by China Youth Travel Service, Tongxiang City Government, and IDG. Its business mainly covers travel services, scenic area operation, hotels, real estate, and tourist souvenirs.

The company has dedicated itself to the protection and development of tourism in the ancient town of Wuzhen. With a corporate philosophy of “surpassing through foresight”, in the ten years since its foundation, Wuzhen Tourism Company has steadily expanded, working to make Wuzhen into a famous destination in China and throughout the world. The company will focus on “value marketing” to expand corporate development, set “quality benchmarks” to continually improve its level of management, use a “people based” orientation to foster its core competitiveness, and use “experiential tourism” as its direction to build the number one brand in China’s tourist industry. Wuzhen receives a total of more than five million Chinese and foreign tourist.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

De Young Museum at Golden Gate Park

The de Young Museum, also known as the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, is a fine arts museum located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It is named for early San Francisco newspaperman M. H. de Young. The museum opened in 1895 as an outgrowth of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 (a fair modeled on the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of the previous year). It was housed in an Egyptian style structure which had been the Fine Arts Building at the fair. The building was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1906, closing the building for a year and a half for repairs. Before long, the museum's steady development called for a new space to better serve its growing audiences. Michael de Young responded by planning the building that would serve as the core of the de Young Museum facility through the 20th century. Louis Christian Mullgardt, the coordinator for architecture for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, designed the Spanish-Plateresque-style building. 

The new structure was completed in 1919 and formally transferred by de Young to the city's park commissioners. In 1921, de Young added a central section, together with a tower that would become the museum's signature feature, and the museum began to assume the basic configuration that it retained until 2001. Michael de Young's great efforts were honored with the changing of the museum's name to the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. Another addition, a west wing, was completed in 1925, the year de Young died. In 1929 the original Egyptian-style building was declared unsafe and demolished. By 1949, the elaborate cast concrete ornamentation of the original de Young was determined to be a hazard and removed because the salt air from the Pacific had rusted the supporting steel.

Exploratorium of Fine Arts in San Francisco

The task of creating a Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition fell to the architect Bernard R. Maybeck, then fifty years old and known for his innovative ideas. Setting to work on this new project, he chose as his theme a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving. But this ruin was not to exist solely for itself to show "the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes .... " Although it was meant to give delight by its exterior beauty, its purpose was also to offer all visitors a stimulating experience within doors. In playing host to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, The Fair, which opened on February 20, 1915, San Francisco was honoring the discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the completion of the Panama Canal; it was also celebrating its own resurrection after the shattering earthquake and fire of 1906. 

 The problems of choosing the exact site in the city had finally been overcome and groundwork had been going on for some time. Last of the buildings to be erected, on the lagoon and close by a group of Monterey cypresses, was Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts. With its exhibition hall to house the work of living artists (dominated by the Impressionists), its colonnade, and its rotunda -- plans for all of which had dazzled the Commissioners when the huge brown-paper sketch was put before them -- it fulfilled the architect's dream: it was as beautiful reflected in the water as it was against the sky. And when the Palace was completed (Roman in style although a freely-interpreted, purely romantic conception, and Greek in decorative treatment) its exceptional harmony gave it instant appeal to the public.

South African Anthem and Inauguration on Stamp

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was composed in the year 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid government. Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by C.J. Langenhoven in 1918 and was set to music by the Reverend Marthinus Lourens de Villiers in 1921.[2] Die Stem was the co-national anthem[3] with God Save the King/Queen from 1936 to 1957, when it became the sole national anthem until 1995. The South African government adopted both songs as national anthems from the year 1994, when they were performed at Nelson Mandela's inauguration.[4] They were merged in 1997 to form the current anthem. The new English lyrics were adapted from the last four lines of the first stanza of The Call of South Africa (the English version of Die Stem), and were modified to reflect hope in post-apartheid South African society.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mill Network of the Netherlands

The Kinderdijk-Elshout mill network is an outstanding man-made landscape that bears powerful testimony to human ingenuity and fortitude over a millennium in draining and protecting an area by the development and application of hydraulic technology.  It is located in the north-western comer of the Alblasserwaard. It drained the internal drainage districts of De Overwaard and De Nederwaard until 1950, when the mills were closed. The 19 mills that form this group of monuments are all in operating condition. The Alblasserwaard is bounded by the rivers Lek to the north, Merwede to the south, and Noord to the south. The properties consist of discharge sluices, Water Board Assembly Houses, pumping stations, and brick and wooden mills. Owing to changed technical requirements, the discharge sluices were reduced to two and reconstructed in the mid-1980s.

The Water Board Assembly Houses of De Overwaard and De Nederwaard survive intact. The former was built in 1581 and purchased by the Water Board in 1595 to house the Elshout lockmaster. It was used for several other purposes until 1648, when it became the headquarters of the Water Board. It is a two-storeyed brick structure on a rectangular floor plan with a hipped roof. When it became the Water Board Assembly House the modifications included provision of a meeting room, addition of a stone door-arch decorated with coats of arms of the reeve and board members, new windows, and bedrooms in the attic for members. It underwent drastic alterations in 1918 when the dyke there was raised and widened: 3 m was removed from the front of the house and a new facade built. It was restored in 1981-83. The assembly house of De Nederwaard is a plain rectangular two-storeyed building of the 18th century with a hipped roof. (