Wednesday, September 19, 2018

China - Chou (Clown) Roles in Beijing Opera 2001

Date of Issue: 15 February 2001
Perforation: 11.50 x 11

0.80 Chinese Yuan - Tang Qin
0.80 Chinese Yuan - Liu Lihua
0.80 Chinese Yuan - Gao Lishi
0.80 Chinese Yuan - Jiang Gan
0.80 Chinese Yuan - Yang Xiangwu
2.80 Chinese Yuan - Shi Qian

Chou Roles in Peking Opera:
The Chou usually plays secondary roles in a troupe. Indeed, most studies of Beijing opera classify the Chou as a minor role.

The name of the role is a homophone of the Mandarin Chinese word chou, meaning "ugly". This reflects the traditional belief that the clown's combination of ugliness and laughter could drive away evil spirits.

Chou roles can be divided into Wen Chou, civilian roles such as merchants and jailers, and Wu Chou, minor military roles. The Wu Chou is one of the most demanding in Beijing opera, because of its combination of comic acting, acrobatics, and a strong voice.

Chou characters are generally amusing and likable, if a bit foolish. Their costumes range from simple for characters of lower status to elaborate, perhaps overly so, for high status characters.

Chou characters wear special face paint, called xiaohualian, that differs from that of Jing characters. The defining characteristic of this type of face paint is a small patch of white chalk around the nose. This can represent either a mean and secretive nature or a quick wit.

Beneath the whimsical persona of the Chou, a serious connection to the form of Beijing opera exists. The Chou is the character most connected to the guban, the drums and clapper commonly used for musically accompaniment during performances. The Chou actor often uses the guban in solo performance, especially when performing clapper, light-hearted verses spoken for comedic effect. The clown is also connected to the small gong and cymbals, percussion instruments that symbolize the lower classes and the raucous atmosphere inspired by the role.

Although Chou characters do not sing frequently, their arias feature large amounts of improvisation. This is considered a license of the role, and the orchestra will accompany the Chou actor even as he bursts into an unscripted folk song.

Laos - Ethnic Costumes 1987

Date of Issue: 02 December 1987
Perforation: 12¾

There are 68 official ethnic groups in Laos, belonging to three main groups: Lao Theung, Lao Loum and Lao Soung.

The Lao Loum (Low Lao) are the principal lowland inhabitants and the politically and culturally dominant group. The Lao Sung (High Lao) are the Hill people and minority cultures of Laos such as the Hmong (Meo), Yaho ( Mien), Thai Damm that have lived in isolated regions for many years. The Lao Theung (Upland Lao) are the predominate people in the central and southern mountains of Laos.

Here are several items depicting women representing the three main ethnic groups of Laos:
    7 Lao Kip - Lao Theung
  38 Lao Kip - Lao Loum
144 Lao Kip - Lao Soung 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Faroe Islands - Faroese National Costumes III 2018

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 24 September 2018
Values: 18,00 and 20,00 DKK
Stamp Size: 40,0 x 26,5 mm
Artist: Edward Fuglø
Printing Method: Offset
Printer: OeSD, Austria
Postal Use: Small Letters to Europe and Other Countries, 0-50 g

The third and last issue in the series about the Faroese national costume deals with traditional headwear - Bonnet and Hat

About the Motif: Faroese National Costumes III

The Faroese National Costume III – Bonnet and Hat
The third and last issue in the series about the Faroese national costume deals with traditional headwear.

The Female Costume
The traditional women’s headwear was, as in the rest of Europe, the so-called bonnet. The bonnet is a kind of a neck hat that covers the top of the head, the nape and rear part of the temples, down to or over the ears - but not the forehead. The headwear has been known since the Middle Ages, when both women and men could wear bonnets. Medieval knights carried a thick bonnet as a status symbol under the helmet in order to spread the effect of a blow to the head. Not wearing the helmet emphasized their knighthood status.

The practice spread among other men in less fearsome professions, although the bonnet was thinner. For women, the bonnet was seen more as a symbol of modesty and bashfulness. Honest women did not go with their hair exposed, something which still can be observed in conservative Christian groups like the Amish and the Mannonites. In my childhood, female officers in the Army of Salvation also wore small black bonnets as part of the uniform.

The practical purpose of the women's bonnets was preserving the hairdo and protecting the hair from rain, wind and the elements of nature. Since the sun, sometimes absent for lengthy periods of time, did not pose any problem for Faroese women, the otherwise well-known European sunscreen was not widely used. Instead, the two-piece bonnet, as featured on the stamp, was most commonly used. The bonnets were generally dark, albeit in different colors. They were held in place with silk ribbons, red for girls and young women, blue for elderly women. Widows carried dark blue ribbons to mark their sorrow. Sources also mention patterned ribbons, but they have probably not been very common. In recent decades, the bonnet has become fashionable among women wearing the national costume. However, it is still a part of the attire of little girls.

Male Suit
The most prominent part of the male national costume is the characteristic hat. The slanted hat is related to the French Jacobine hat - and must not to be confused with the more distinguished headwear that appears on a Faroese stamp from 10.04.1989. The commonly worn Faroese hat was traditionally made of wool. It either has stripes in red and black striped or in blue and black - the blue variant most often being used by elderly men. At the top, the hat has 13 folds which gives it a canted look. Today, the topmost part of the hat is folded down sideways and stitched - and carried like a military side cap, sometimes known as garrison caps, with straight sides.

There is some disagreement as to whether one should wear the hat slanting from the left or the right but it is most commonly worn slanted to the left. This means that the wearer can lift the hat with his left hand and greet others with his right. In the days of old the slanted part was not stitched down - and in old pictures you can see that the hat was worn in quite a random fashion, with no regard to the way it turned. From my childhood I remember an old man who carried his wrapping tobacco in his hat - but how commonly the hat was used as a pocket, I really do not know.

This stamp issue concludes Edvard Fuglø’s series featuring the Faroese national costume - the everyday nineteenth century apparel, which has become today's national dress worn by young and old for both festive and formal occasions.

Faroe Islands - Faroese National Costumes II 2017

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 2 October 2017
Values: 9,50 and 17 DKK
Stamp Size: 40,0 x 26,5 mm
Artist: Edward Fuglø
Printing Method: Offset. 
Printer: OeSD, Austria
Postal Use: Small Letters Inland and to Europe, 0-50 g

The second stamp issue of the Faroese national costume shows the skirt, pants, socks and shoes

About the Motif: Faroese National Costumes II

The Female Dress:

The Skirt
Nowadays the traditional skirt is black with red stripes. The material used was the so-called "linsey", i.e. originally homespun flax with wool, but now machine-woven cotton with wool is being used. In recent years traditionalists have levelled some criticism at this trend. Young women especially have chosen other colours, for example black with green stripes or black with yellow stripes.

The sources, however, tell us that from times of old different colours have been used. In his description of the Faroes, dating back to 1800, pastor Jørgen Landt (1751 - 1804) reports that the skirts were brown with white stripes for everyday use and yellow-striped for special occasions. The tailor Hans Marius Debes (1888 - 1978) writes that formerly the skirts were dark blue in basic hue rather than black, with light blue, white, red, yellow or green stripes. Debes also writes that the skirt should be fitted with 13 pleats, the reason being the common practice of girls getting their skirts around the age of confirmation and as their bodies developed the pleats would gradually even out.

The Apron
The apron, of course, is a remnant of the old everyday dress and served the purpose of protecting the skirt from dirt and wear. It's easier to wash an apron than a skirt – and the apron can be replaced in a trice. Folklore researcher J. C. Svabo (1746-1824) stated that the aprons were made of blue-striped canvas, while H. M. Debes, a few centuries later, stated that they were made of muslin, silk or some similar fabric. In the past aprons were shorter than nowadays when they are worn exclusively for decorative purposes. Much attention is often paid to the apron’s embellishment, usually by using embroideries which, incidentally, have to match the scarf.

Socks and Shoes
Underneath the skirt girls and women wore black or gray socks, most likely knitted with Faroese yarn. Since then socks have become daintier, made of silk and nylon, and nowadays black nylon stockings or panty hoses are used.

The shoes were originally of traditional Faroese cowhide or sheepskin shoes, or clogs and galoshes. Besides, shoes of foreign origin have undoubtedly been used as well.

Today, the most commonly worn shoes are black semi-high heeled patent leather shoes with wide shoe buckles made of silver.

The Male Dress:

The Breeches
One of the most distinctive features of the men's traditional costume are the black breeches. J. C. Svabo gives quite a humorous description of Faroese trousers used in his own times. He writes that they are black and wide, open below the knee and fastened about the leg with drawstrings. The fly was in front without any buttons, always open and extra visible because of the white undergarment. It would have been more befitting, in Svabo’s opinion, to use a flap or a panel to cover the front opening of the pants - but he doubted that this would happen.

Chances have actually happened since the times of Svabo. Today, the pants have a flap in front which is fastened up with silver buttons on the sides. The modern breeches are also tighter, made of black homespun cloth and they are also fitted with buttons in the seams just below the knees.

The reason for the traditional use of breeches is a practical one. Coming home after a hard day’s work it was easier to change socks than pants since work often meant getting your feet and legs wet.

The Stockings
The socks, or rather the stockings, are long, reaching up above the knee and held in place with a so-called garter, preferably woven in coloured patterns. The stockings date back to ancient times, most often brown or grey in colour. On festive occasions men often used blue or white stockings - which is also the case today. The stockings are usually blue, but they can be white or brown as well.

Traditionally, cowhide or sheepskin shoes with long laces wrapped up around the legs were used almost exclusively. For festive occasions some men may have worn shoes of foreign make, but this would have been very rare.

As the national costume became distinct from everyday clothing in the late 1800’s, people started using "Danish shoes" which were more refined leather or patent leather shoes with a wide silver buckles, often decorated with shaded ornaments.

Anker Eli Petersen

Faroe Islands - Faroese National Costumes I 2016

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 26 September 2016
Values: 17 DKK and 20 DKK
Stamp Size: 40,0 x 26,5 mm
Artist: Edward Fuglø
Printing Method: Offset
Printer: OeSD, Austria. 
Postal Use: Small and Large Letters to Europe, 51-100 g

Many Faroese wear national costumes at parties and town festivals.

About the motif: Faroese National Costumes I

Visitors to the Faroe Islands have hardly failed to notice that many Faroese wear national costumes at parties and town festivals. They will see men wearing breeches and the distinct Faroese hats and women in full-length skirts with beautifully embroidered aprons and shawls, with elegantly made silver jewellery.

In actuality, the Faroese national costume tradition is not very old. The costumes are based on the way everyday clothing looked up until the mid-19th century, and it was only during the national revival in the late 18th century that they started becoming different from the commoner's clothing. The term "føroysk klæði" (Faroese attire) should be compared to the concept "donsk klæði" (Danish attire), which designated clothes bought in shops - and does not necessarily denote formal wear. Gradually, as it became more customary to dress in "shop's clothing" as most Europeans did, the traditional attire came to occupy a class by itself. In my childhood we still could see men, especially of the older generation, using breeches, knitted sweaters and hats in everyday life.

Over time, and especially during the national romantic revival in the late 18th century, the Faroese attire began assuming its current status for festive occasions. There have been a number of changes made from the original attire and a certain standardization of both female and male dresses has taken place, so that one can now talk about a genuine national costume. After World War II the use of the national costume gradually increased, but in the last two or three decades it has come back with a vengeance, partly because of nationalism flourishing due to the severe financial crisis in the Faroe Islands in the nineties.

In three annual stamp issues we will illustrate aspects of both the female and male costumes.

Torso - The Female Costume
The knitted blouse that goes with the female costume is short and tight. It is open in front and has a wide neckline. Traditionally the blouse is red with tiny black patterns or, more rarely, blue with dark blue patterns. Recently, designers have started experimenting with colours - violet, green or yellow, to name just a few.

A detachable bosom is worn underneath the open front of the blouse. The bosom originates in the old festive apparel called "stakkur" and was not being commonly used for this costume in the past. In days of old the bosom was woven or knitted in wool, then fulled or felted, while nowadays being made of lined velvet or similar fabric. The bosom serves two functions - the first as a compensation, let's say if the woman gets a little bigger, enabling her to use the same blouse. Its second function is to serve as an underlay, enhancing the costume's silver ornament.

In order to tighten the blouse against the body, use is made of a silver chain, a so-called "stimi". The stimi is pulled through the eyelets, "malja" in Faroese, on both sides of the blouse opening. A silver needle called "sproti" is at the end of the stimi which is fastened to the blouse after insertion. A source reports that formerly the stimi went up under the bust in order to accentuate it - but now it goes up on the bust of the dress.

Around the waist women wear a wide black belt with ornamented silver buckles. In rare cases, the entire belt is composed of ornamented silver pieces.

A large ornamented silver brooch is on top of the detachable bosom, used to hold the shawl in place. The brooch and belt buckles should preferably match with each other.

On the whole, silver ornamentation plays an important role in the national costume. There are women who, while their daughters are still young, start collecting the single silver pieces which at some point in the future will become a complete set. The silver ornamentation is also often passed on from mother to daughter. The design of the brooch and the silver buckles varies. In recent years Faroese decorative motifs have become more frequent.

Torso - The Male Costume
Men dressing in the national costume generally wear a white shirt next to the body. Over the shirt they wear a waistcoat with six silver buttons, two small pockets and intricate floral embroideries. The waistcoat is either red or black in front. There is also a white waistcoat variant used by bridegrooms at weddings.

Over the waistcoat men wear a buttoned knitted sweater, open in front with silver buttons on both sides. The sweater is mostly worn open in front, held together at the top by a short silver chain with silver buttons at each end. The buttoned sweater is either uni-coloured dark blue and made of knitted and felted wool - or, as shown on the stamp, light blue with a dark blue pattern.

Anker Eli Petersen

Sunday, September 9, 2018

India - Joint Issue with Armenia, Traditional Dances 2018

Armenia - Joint Issue with India, Traditional Dances 2018

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 29 August 2018
Designer: Vahagn Mkrtchyan (“Hov Arek” Dance); Suresh Kumar ("Manipuri" Dance)
Printer: Cartor, France
Size: 40,0 x 30,0 mm
Print Run: 40,000.- Pieces

About Armenia- India Joint Issue

The first postage stamp depicts the Armenian dance “Hov Arek” staged on the basis of lyrical folk song (“Hov arek sarer jan” which means “Dear mountains send me a breeze”) from the collection of the famous Armenian musicologist, composer and priest Komitas. The dance is performed by women, which make the dance look very graceful and delicate.

The second postage stamp depicts the Indian dance “Manipuri”, which is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. It is originated in Manipur, a far eastern state of India. The traditional Manipuri dance style embodies delicate, lyrical and graceful movements.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Indonesia - Traditional Costumes 2000

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 28 October 2000
Designs: Indonesian Traditional Costumes
Denomination: 28 x IDR 900.-
Size: 48.00mm x 31.96mm
Perforation: 12.50mm x 12.50mm
Colours: 5 Colors + 1 Logo
Paper: White Unwatermarked
Gum: PVA
Printing Process: Combination of Offset & Rotogravure
Printing Quantity: 250,000 sets
Sheet Composition: 28 pieces (4x7) with gutter
Designed by: Yudah Noor
Printer: Perum Peruri

Declaration of birth of Indonesian nation and nationality, was launched in the third plenary session of the second Indonesia Youth Congress, 28 October 1928 which is performed by Indonesian Youth Organizations.
All son & daughters from various ethnical, religion and local languange background has declared their oath to possess: one of bloodshed; one of nation; and one of language, that is, Indonesia.

This historical event is then know as The Day of Youth Oath.
In coinciding with celebration of the 72th, on October 28, 2000 issues the "Indonesian Traditional Costumes" stamp series, depicting customary dresses from all Indonesia provinces, as follow:

900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from D.I. Aceh
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Jambi
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Banten
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from D.I. Yogyakarta
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Kalimantan Tengah
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sulawesi Tenggara
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sumatera Utara
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Nusa Tenggara Timur
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Bengkulu
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from D.K.I Jakarta
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Jawa Timur
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Kalimantan Timur
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sulawesi Selatan
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Maluku
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sumatera Barat
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sumatera Selatan
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Jawa Barat
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Kalimantan Barat
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sulawesi Utara
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Bali
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Maluku Utara
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Riau
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Lampung
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Jawa Tengah
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Kalimantan Selatan
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Sulawesi Tengah
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Nusa Tenggara Barat
900 Indonesia Rupiah - Traditional Costumes from Irian Jaya

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Thailand - Traditional Costumes, Joint Issue With Romania 2018

Technical Details:
Issue Date : 31 May 2018
Denomination: 3 Baht (2 Designs)
Size: 30 x 48 mm. (Vertical-measured from perforation to perforation)
Printer: Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Sri Lanka - Traditional Dances, Joint Issue with South Korea 2017

Technical Details:
Date of Issue: 14 November 2017
Denomination: LKR 10.00; LKR 50.00
Dimension: 300mm x 225mm
Perforations: 150 x 110
Print Color: Four Process Colours
Print Quantity: 500,000 Stamps; 15000 SS

10 Sri Lankan Rupee - Female Kandyan Dancer
The Kandyan dance, including the Kohomba Kankariya, was performed exclusively by male dancers, who belonged to the dancing caste and lived in rural areas. But in the 1920s, the westernized elite also began got take an interest in Kandyan dance. George E de Silva, a lawyer practicing in Kandy arranged for his two daughters, Minette and Anil to learn Kandyan dance from Nittawela Ukkuwa, elder brother of Gunaya. Kandyan dancers are usually treated shabbily in high caste homes, but de Silva had allowed them to sit on chairs and eat at the table with the family. The de Silva family was able to flout convention in this manner, because George was non-Goigama and his wife was from an elite Burgher family.

George E. de Silva was no ordinary person, neither was Minette. Therefore, this first venture in introducing dance to upper class women is of some significance. In 1915 George. E. de Silva and E.W.Perera had carried a secret memorial drafted by James Peiris to London, on behalf to those victimized in the 1915 riots. George later became Minster of Health in the State Council of Sri Lanka (1931) and Minister of Industries in the first Parliament. Minette ( b.1918) who seems to have dropped dance at the first opportunity, became Sri Lanka’s first woman architect.

Miriam Pieris (b.1908) later Miriam de Saram, was the first woman to publicly perform Kandyan dance. She was the daughter of Paul E. Pieris, the noted civil servant and scholar. Miriam had studied dance and music in England and India and had appeared in Alexander Korda’s 1938 film ‘The Drum’ as an ‘exotic dancer’. Two of her close relatives Justin Deraniyagala and Arthur Molamure knew about Kandyan dance and had a strong interest in its preservation. Miriam learnt Kandyan dance under Nittawela Gunaya and in the early 1930s ‘shocked the nation’ by performing Kandyan dance on stage in Colombo with the Sarasavi Players. Sarasavi Players were a new group featuring Saranagupta Amarasinghe as singer and Miriam as Kandyan dancer. Lionel Wendt had sponsored the performance. Miriam’s dancing, which was publicized in the Times of Ceylon was considered scandalous. In 1938 Miriam published an article on the dances of Ceylon in London’s "Dancing Times". She is shown dressed in the full Ves costume, tattuva and all. Miriam did not become a professional dancer but her performance was significant for breaking the gender as well as the caste barrier, said Susan Reed. Miriam belonged to the leading caste of the time, the Goigama caste.

Breen Hilda Karunatilake, known to audiences as Chandralekha, was encouraged by her husband J.D.A.Perera to study dance. Perera was at that time, head of the Art section at Government Technical College. He was a successful portrait painter and a portrait of Chandralekha, painted by him hangs in the National Art Gallery.

Chandralekha studied Udarata dance in the mid 1930s under Rangama Gunamala and Muruthawe Laminduwa, then under Algama Kiriganitha. Kiriganitha had reservations, however and did not teach her the first yakdessa dance in Kohomba Kankariya. ‘He only taught her a little, as she was a woman,’ said Chitrasena. Chandralekha had been very upset when she found that Chitrasena had been taught much more than her . But Chandralekha wanted to perform on a stage not in a kankariya. So Kiriganitha and her drummer Panis, later Pani Bharatha, modified the kankariya steps and created new dance steps and new drum beats for her. Chandralekha thereafter went to Kerala, to the Chitrodaya School at Travancore, to learn Kathakali under the renowned teacher Gopinath. Chitrasena was also training there.

Chandralekha’s first, and probably only, partner was Chitrasena. She danced with Chitrasena on several occasions. Chandralekha was not a good dancer but she was well trained, said Chitrasena. Chitrasena and Chandralekha gave a command performance before the Maharaja of Travancore in the 1940s. In 1941 they gave a performance at Kalutara, where though Chitrasena was the better dancer, Chandralekha was the centre of interest as she was female. In the same year, Chitrasena danced with Chandralekha and her troupe at Regal Theatre, Colombo, before the Governor Sir Andrew Caldecott.

Chandralekha also danced solo. She performed in full Ves costume including the tattuva. This was not well received. The traditional dancers did not like it. When Chandralekha died young, of tuberculosis, in 1941 traditional dancers attributed it to her wearing Wes. Chandralekha became well known in the island as the first woman to master Kandyan dance. There were other women in her group, but they did not dance publicly. It was a fashion among the elite women to perform Indian dances but not the Kandyan dance, observed Nurnberger. Chandralekha holds a firm, if limited place in the history of modern Kandyan dance. Chitrasena and Vajira, also Mudiyanse Disanayake speak of her when talking about dance history.

Kalasuri Vajira (b. 1931) said that she did not choose dance, she grew into it. Her outstanding ability in dance was recognized and commented on when she was a student at Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya. Vajira’s mother, who herself had wanted to be a dancer, encouraged her daughter. Vajira was sent to study under Chitrasena, in Colombo. ‘It was a very rigorous training’ she recalled. After her marriage to Chitrasena in 1950, they started performing together and worked as a team in developing the Chitrasena School of Dance, creating ballets, performing them here and abroad and acting as cultural ambassadors when necessary.

Vajira’s maiden public appearance was as a deer in the ballet Ravana, at the Independence Day celebration in 1948. She made an immediate impression. This was the start of a very successful dance career which lasted from 1948-2006. Vajira was admired and applauded where ever she danced, whether in Sri Lanka or abroad. Whenever Vajira appeared on the stage in Colombo, the audience, who usually took a couple of minutes to realize who it was, would burst into applause.

The traditional dancers also respected her. She learnt Kandyan dancing from them, including Lapaya guru, watched many Kohomba Kankariya performances, sometimes for several days in remote villages, and also took instruction from younger dancers such as Piyasara Silpadhipati who came from the rural dancing tradition and knew the dance intimately.

Of the three women dancers discussed in this essay, it is Vajira who has made the greatest contribution to dance. Vajira created a lasya (feminine) dance style. This could be seen, for instance, in her interpretation of the Gajaga vannama. This lasya style gave a new dimension to the Kandyan dance. ‘But it took many years to perfect the style,’ protested Vajira.

Vajira then moved ‘from being a dancer to being a choreographer.’ Starting with Hima kumari in 1952 she choreographed 13 or 14 ballets for children as well as seven ballets for adults, and three created together with Chitrasena. ‘This was a big step for me,’ she said. ‘I began by composing small pieces for school dance programmes. I would recreate within the given pattern of steps. I then began improving the dance movements. I explored the techniques of elevation in dancing and it evolved into a completely new and unique style, I began to create dance steps and sequences for different moods, for different characters. I tried to combine indigenous forms of dance with some of the movements and styles that I saw in performances in other parts of the world. But it is a real challenge to work with the traditional forms and try to introduce some new elements into the old repertoires, she concluded.

The first female Kandyan dance costume was designed by Somabandu Vidyapathi for Vajira’s Pooja dance in Ravana ballet in 1949. It included a headdress and armlet. This is now the standard costume for women Kandyan dancers. Vajira herself designed a practice costume for the women students to wear for rehearsals and lessons.

Vajira taught at the Chitrasena School of Dance, and ran it as well. That is well known. What is less well known is that Vajira was responsible for most of the syllabuses taught in the Chitrasena School. Also that she had created a series of exercises and rhythmic movements to train the dancer’s body and had also introduced positions from Yoga. Vajira taught dance in several schools in and around Colombo as well. Her students at Princess of Wales College, Moratuwa danced the ballet Sepalika in 1960.

Chitrasena and Vajira have created a ‘natum paramparawa’ consisting exclusively of women performers. There is daughter Upekha, who was principal dancer of the Chitrasena Dance Company and Anjalika, a fine character dancer and also a choreographer. Granddaughter Thaji is now principal dancer of the company, and Heshma is its choreographer. Vajira’s younger sister Vipuli , in my opinion, also deserves mention in this list. She was a very good dancer who could command a stage when necessary. Like Vajira, Vipuli also showed promise at a young age ,when she starred in ‘Hima kumari’. Vipuli left the stage on marriage, but ran a dancing school in London for some time.

50 Sri Lankan Rupee - Chunaengjoen (Dance of the Nightingale)
Chunaengjeon or Dance of Spring Nightingale (춘앵전) is a Korean court dance (jeongjae) created during the later period of Joseon Dynasty.

The oldest document providing brief information about Chunaengjeon is Jinchan Uigwe (Manual of Court Banquet) published in 1848. According to Jinchan Uigwe text, Chunaengjeon have existed in Joseon court since 1649, but only then under Crown Prince Hyomyeong's tutelage it was revised and perfected. The dance was presented to 40th birthday Queen Sunwon in 1828. Jinchan Uigwe wrote that the Korean Chunaengjeon originated from a Chinese nightingale dance which was created by Tang Gaozong's court musician.

It is written:
According to Chinese encyclopedia Yuanchien Leihan of 1701, Emperor Gaozong from Tang listened to nightingale singing and ordered court musician Po Ming Chien to express it into musical composition. A mat was provided and girl dancer danced on it. Moving back and forth, and turning around, she dances only on the mat. The song text is as follows: "Walking in the moonlight, wind through sleeves, standing before a flower, yearning for a lover.

The manual of 1828 did not contain dance choreography. Both 1829 and 1848's Uigwes also provided same information. The first book that contained the dance choreography was Manual of Court Dance("Jeongjae Mudo Holgi") of 1893. It comprised the choreography of 37 Chinese and Korean dances in the form of manuscript. During Japanese occupation of Korea, court dance was banned. Therefore, only five court dances originally inherited; Cheoyongmu, Mugo, Pogurak, Geommu, and Chunaengjeon. Eventually, court dances were performed in entertainment house (gyobang).

One of the last original skill holder of Chunaengjeon was Kim Cheon-Heung (1909-2007). At the age of 15 he performed Chunaengjeon in front of Emperor Sunjong.During period of Japanese occupation, he only focused on preserving traditional music. After Korean independence in 1945, he began to revive the dance in Yi Wang-Jik Court Music Association.

Chunaengjeon is the only solo Korean court dance. It shares the same basic pattern and movement with other court dances. Among Joseon court dances it is praised as "the flower of court dance".

The most important movement is hwajeontae, when the dancer imitates bird perching on flower by put the colorful sleeves at the back and smiles. This is a movement hard to find in other court dances and the highlight of the dance. The quality of smile decides the quality of the dancer.

The dancer dances on a floral-pattern mat (hwamunseok) with defined and controlled steps. The costume is called yellow aengsam. The headdress can be lotus coronet for male dancer and jokduri for female dancer. Another peculiarity is they are not wearing shoes, only with traditional socks beoseon. Court music piece pyeongjo hoesang is played to accompany the dance.

Laos - Ethnic Groups in Laos 2018

Date of Issue: The sets was already issued on 30 December 2017, but was only available from 10 July 2018 at the post office.

Ethnic Groups in Laos:
1000 Lao Kip - 
Phong Ethnic
2000 Lao Kip -
Thaineua Ethnic
3000 Lao Kip - 
Ngoum Ethnic
8000 Lao Kip - 
Katu Ethnic

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Laos - Traditionally Lao Women's Clothing 2017

Technical Details:
Date of Issue: 8 March 2017 
Design: Vongsavanh Damlongsouk 
Perforation: 12¾ x 13

Laos Traditional Costumes

Like Cambodians and Thais, Laotians wear glamorous traditional costumes which reflecting the richness of their spiritual life and sense of art. Costumes of Laotians diversified among different ethnics, presenting their distinguished concept about nature.
The first sign to recognize Lao women is their traditional silk skirt called as Sinh. Travelling along Mekong River, you will easily find Lao women in sinh working on the fields, selling agricultural products or performing traditional dance. As written in Traditional Dress Key to Preserving Culture that “The styles of sinh not only represent the variety and abundance of our natural resources, but also the inner hearts and minds of the people”, sinh is worn with pride of Laos women about their homeland.

In terms of design, sinh is quite simple as it is a tube skirt made of silk or cotton. However, this simple skirt may lure your eyes due to its delicate embroidery motifs. Sinh are diversified in terms of colors, motifs and designs among people of different culture, social status, communities and regions. Regularly, sinh includes 3 parts: the houa sinh (waistband), pheun sinh (body, main part) and the tdin sinh (hem).

Traditionally, Lao women often wear sinh as the lower part with blouses over the waist. Sinh worn by Lao women in daily life is quite simple with a little decoration. However, for important ceremonies, they often wear glamorous sinh with sophisticated embroidery motifs and even jewelry.

Lao men often wear yao or hang – a wrapped around skirt. It is simply designed with two ends twisted together, pulled between the legs and fixed into the waist band at the back. However, it takes a great amount of time to make yao or hang as it is made of heavy plied silk and delicate embroidered.

Overall, traditional costume of Laos is such a work of art, reflecting skillful handicraft technique as well as culture of Laotians. Laotians’ costume is one of the factors making the simple but attractive beauty of “the Land of Elephant”.

Sinh (clothing):
The sinh (Lao: ສິ້ນ, Lao pronunciation: [sȉn]; Thai: ซิ่น, Thai pronunciation: [sîn]) is a traditional garment worn by Lao and Thai women, particularly Northern Thai and Northeastern Thai women. It is a tube skirt which can identify the woman who wears it in a variety of ways. In particular, it can indicate which region the wearer is from. In present-day Thailand, sinhs are typically worn in special events. However, in Laos sinhs are worn more regularly in daily life

A typical Tai Yuan sinh.
A Sinh is typically composed of three components:
1.  Hua Sinh (Lao: ຫົວສິ້ນ), literally "the head of the sinh", is the waistband part, which is typically tucked in and hidden.

2.  Phuen Sinh (Lao: ພື້ນສິ້ນ) or tua sinh (Thai: ตัวซิ่น), literally "the body of the sinh", is the body part which is the main part of the sinh. This part of the sinh is typically not detailed. In particular, it typically only consists of one or two colors.

3.  Tin Sinh (Lao: ຕີນສິ້ນ), literally "the foot of the sinh", is the hem part. The hem is typically woven with a lot of details. The specific details of the hem can indicate where the sinh is made.

The sinh is made of silk, woven in ornate motifs with delicate embroidery. They come in different textures and designs and are usually created in rural areas by ethnic groups.

Laos - Lao Traditional Wedding 2016

Technical Details:
Date of Issue: 19 December 2016
Design: Vongsavanh Damlongsouk 
Perforation: 12¾ x 13

Laos Wedding Ceremony: 

Traditional wedding dress of Laos

The Laos traditional wedding ceremony has been around for generations and very important for younger generations to pass down. A Laos wedding ceremony, or suu khwan, is full of traditions involving the entire village or community. The marriage is taken seriously by Laotians and all parties involved, and it’s considered as a lifelong commitment made by the couple. In the eyes of the Buddhist religion, the marriage is recognized and sacred, but the wedding ceremony need not be conducted in the presence of monks and is usually performed at the bride’s home.

The wedding ceremony takes place can either be in the morning or afternoon. The family members take responsibilities of preparing food for the luncheon reception. The bride, begins her preparations earlier than the groom since her costume is much more intricate. She wears a traditional Laotian wedding outfit consisting of sinh, a Laotian silk shirt, and paa bien, a scarf, both made from raw silk, and decorates her hair in a traditional bun with ornate gold jewelry. The style of the wedding outfit and hair will vary depending on the family’s wealth and the region of Laos they are from. The guests, mainly family and close friends, gather at the bride’s family’s home.

The ceremony commences when the groom, along with his family and friends, leads a procession from his family’s home through the village to the bride’s home. Upon arrival, the groom’s entourage must convince the bride’s family of his worth before he can enter the house and wed his bride. The ceremony continues with more blessings for the bride and groom, as the guests tie the white strings to the bride’s and groom’s wrists. The string-tying, provides an opportunity to share a personal message and blessing with the bride and groom. The ceremony is followed by the lunch reception. At the end of the wedding day, an evening reception, often held at a hall or hotel, features live traditional Laos music, dancing, speeches and delicious Laos food.
Preparing for traditional wedding in Laos

Laos Wedding:
Today, most people split their wedding into two parts, one is a traditional Laos wedding ceremony and the other is a modern wedding reception. Some have the traditional Laos wedding ceremony at home in the morning, when Baci ceremony takes place, and some do it in the afternoon. Only close friends and relatives are invited to join the Baci part. Whether the Baci takes place in the morning or afternoon, food and drinks are served to the guests at the end of the ceremony. The reception is then held in the evening, when more guests are invited, at a hotel, a restaurant, a hall specially caters for weddings or somewhere that could hold more people. This practice is more common among city people.
Lao Bride and Groom in traditional costume 

The traditional Laos wedding is usually held at the bride’s family home. In the past the Laos wedding was always in the morning which was believed to be convenient and best time for a joyful celebration such as wedding ceremony to take place, whereas the afternoon is considered the time for sad ceremonies like cremations. However, with modern lifestyles convenience has become more important so the time doesn’t really matter any more.

Generally, 10:00am and 4:00pm are usually considered the best times because guests are invited to have lunch or dinner after the official ceremony is finished.

Bride Price:
The wedding preparations start with the Sou Khor (bride-price negotiation) procession.

The bride-price is usually money and gold, but it can be anything valuable. Traditionally this is asked by the bride's parents as a refund for the breast milk that has been fed to the bride since she was born (literally translated from Lao). How much? depends on the family social status of both sides. Nowadays many parents don't ask for anything so long that their daughter is happy.

When both sides negotiate and agree on the bride-price and all other details then they set the wedding date.

Engagement is not that common in Laos. Some couples get engaged before their wedding while many others don't bother with the engagement at all. There are no set rules really, especially nowadays when life style of many Lao has changed.

The Best Day for Laos Wedding Procession:
Traditionally, the wedding date has to be on a good day in lunar calendar, so parents of either or both sides usually consult elders or senior ex-monks, who have good knowledge of Lao custom and tradition, before the wedding date is set. One thing most Lao knows is that the wedding is not supposed to take place during the three months Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent, late July - late October).

Today this procession has been slightly changed to suit modern lifestyles and sometimes the couple agrees on most of the details (including the bride-price) and they set the date to suit their busy lives. When it comes close to the wedding day, this Sou Khor procession is organised just for the sake of Lao custom or tradition.

Laos Wedding Preparation:
The night before the Laos wedding takes place, an informal ceremony is held at the bride-to-be’s home, and sometimes the groom holds the same ceremony at his place as well. This is called Oun Dong (literally translated: wedding or marriage warming) and it only involves close friends and relatives who come to help with wedding preparations as well as to eat and drink. The things to prepare include Pha Khuan (handmade marigold pyramid made of banana leaves and flowers), food for the big day and the new couple’s bedroom. In this room tradition demands the bed must be made by the mother of the bride or an older female who has a good family (with a good husband and good children and who is not divorced, or a widow).
Pha Khuan: handmade marigold pyramid made of banana leaves & flowers, surrounded by fruits, drink, cooked sticky rice in baskets, boiled eggs and chicken. All make a set of Pha Khuan

The Big Day:
On the big day, the bride is dressed with a traditional Lao silk Sinh (Lao skirt), and silk blouse, and has her hair tied up in a special way with gold decoration. This ensemble is finished off with a gold necklace, bracelets, earrings and a bell.

The groom also gets dressed up usually with white or cream colored silk shirt and a traditional silk Salong (a pair of baggy pants). Sometimes grooms wear normal pants and suits as some find Salongs uncomfortable.

Laos - Lao Ethnic 2011

Date of Issue: 31 January 2011
Perforation: comb 13
Printing: Offset Lithography
Size: 31 x 46 mm
Colors: Multicolor

1,000 ₭ - Lao Kip - Lolo Ethnic
3,000 ₭ - Lao Kip - Mong Luangnamtha Ethnic
4,000 ₭ - Lao Kip - Lahu Ethnic
5,000 ₭ - Lao Kip - Hiumieng Ethnic
8,000 ₭ - Lao Kip - Katang Ethnic

Angola - Day of Africa 2010

Date of Issue: 25 May 2010

Africa Day

Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) (now known as the African Union) on 25 May 1963. It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.

The First Congress of Independent African States was held in Accra, Ghana on 15 April 1958. It was convened by Prime Minister of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and comprised representatives from Egypt (then a constituent part of the United Arab Republic), Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon. The Union of South Africa was not invited. The conference showcased progress of liberation movements on the Africa continent in addition to symbolizing the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Although the Pan-African Congress had been working towards similar goals since its foundation in 1900, this was the first time such a meeting had taken place on African soil.

The Conference called for the founding of an African Freedom Day, a day to "...mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation."

The conference was notable in that it laid the basis for the subsequent meetings of Africa heads of state and government during the Casablanca Group and the Monrovia Group era, until the formation of the OAU in 1963.

Five years later, on 25 May 1963, representatives of thirty African nations met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie. By then more than two-thirds of the continent had achieved independence, mostly from imperial European states. At this meeting, the Organisation of African Unity was founded, with the initial aim to encourage the decolonisation of Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The organisation pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters, and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter was set out which sought to improve the living standards across member states. Selassie exclaimed, "May this convention of union last 1,000 years."

The charter was signed by all attendees on 26 May, with the exception of Morocco. At that meeting, Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day. In 2002, the OAU was replaced by the African Union. However, the renamed celebration of Africa Day continued to be celebrated on 25 May in respect to the formation of the OAU.

Contemporary Celebrations
Africa Day continues to be celebrated both in Africa and around the world, mostly on 25 May (although in some cases these periods of celebrations can be stretched out over a period of days or weeks). Themes are set for each year's Africa Day, with 2015's being the "Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063". At an event in New York City in 2015, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson, delivered a message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in which he said, "Let us... intensify our efforts to provide Africa’s women with better access to education, work and healthcare and, by doing so, accelerate Africa’s transformation".

Angola - African Women's Day 2010

Date of Issue: 31 July 2010

On July 31, 2009, was set aside by the Africa Union for "Celebrating African Women’s Day"! I am urging you to join us in our continuing efforts to advocate for quality Maternity services for our disadvantaged sisters who continue to die needlessly in underserved communities!!

Death and disability of women have profound public health, human rights, and socio-economic consequences for families, communities, and countries. The highest figures of these deaths are recorded in developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa where rates in some countries are as high as 2000 per 100,000 live births, compared to less than 10 per 100,000 in the developed world. Problems include poor quality of health services, poor accessibility and weak referral systems. In-order to achieve MDG 5, the importance of enabling environments to promote good health of women cannot be over-emphasized. Yet, until recently, there has been profound lethargy of political will to aggressively address maternal health!

The Regional Prevention of Maternal & Neonatal Mortality (RPMM) Network is a non- governmental organization (NGO), consisting a network of multidisciplinary and multi-sector teams of professionals, currently in 22 Sub-Saharan African countries , working to contribute to the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality in Africa, through capacity-building and advocacy. At our last regional review meeting in November 2008, it was agreed that the RPMM Network National Teams should consider celebrating the African Women’s Day, set aside for the 31 of July by the African Union.

The aim of celebrating the day is to draw attention to, and focus on addressing maternal and neonatal mortality in Africa. Our plan is to identify problems that need to be highlighted, first for that day and then follow up on the activities, to set targets on what we aim to achieve for the year, and beyond.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Spain - Spanish Military Uniform 1973-1978

(Click to view larger image)  

Issued on 17 July 1973:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Knight, Holy Fraternity of Castile, 1488
2 Spanish Pesetas - Knight, Castile, 1493, Horiz
3 Spanish Pesetas - Harquebusier, 1534
7 Spanish Pesetas - Mounted Rifleman, 1560
8 Spanish Pesetas - Infantry Sergeants, 1567

Issued on 05 January 1974:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Harquebusier on Horseback, 1603
2 Spanish Pesetas - Harquebusier, 1632
3 Spanish Pesetas - Cuirassier, 1635
5 Spanish Pesetas - Mounter Drummer of The Dragoons, 1677
9 Spanish Pesetas - Two Musketeers, 1694

Issued on 17 July 1974:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Hussar and Horse, 1705
2 Spanish Pesetas - Artillery Officers, 1710
3 Spanish Pesetas - Piper and drummer, Granada Regiment, 1734
7 Spanish Pesetas - Mounted Standard-Bearer, Numancia Dragoons, 1737
8 Spanish Pesetas - Standard-Bearer and Soldier, Zamora Regiment, 1739

Issued on 07 January 1975:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Sergeant and Grenadier, Toledo Regiment, 1750
2 Spanish Pesetas - Royal Artillery, 1762
3 Spanish Pesetas - Queen’s Regiment, 1763
5 Spanish Pesetas - Fusiliers, Vitoria Regiment, 1766
10 Spanish Pesetas - Dragoon, Sagunto Regiment, 1775

Issued on 17 July 1975:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Cavalry Officer, 1788
2 Spanish Pesetas - Fusilier, Asturias Regiment, 1789
3 Spanish Pesetas - Infantry Colonel, 1802
4 Spanish Pesetas - Artillery Standard-Bearer, 1803
7 Spanish Pesetas - Sapper, 1809

Issued on 17 July 1976:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Trumpeter, Alcantara Regiment, 1815
2 Spanish Pesetas - Sapper, 1821
3 Spanish Pesetas - Engineer in Dress Uniform, 1825
7 Spanish Pesetas - Artillery Infantry, 1828
25 Spanish Pesetas - Infantry Riflemen, 1830

Issued on 05 January 1977:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Outrider, Calatrava Lancers, 1844
2 Spanish Pesetas - Sapper, 1850
3 Spanish Pesetas - Corporal, Light Ciudad Infantry, 1861
4 Spanish Pesetas - Drum Major, 1861
20 Spanish Pesetas - Artillery Captain, Mounted, 1862

Issued on 16 July 1977:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Military Administration Official, 1875
2 Spanish Pesetas - Cavalry Lancers, 1883
3 Spanish Pesetas - General Staff Commander, 1884
7 Spanish Pesetas - Trumpeter, Divisional Artillery, 1887
25 Spanish Pesetas - Medical Corps Official, 1895

Issued on 05 January 1978:
1 Spanish Pesetas - Flag Bearer, 1908
2 Spanish Pesetas - Lieutenant Colonel, Hussar, 1909
3 Spanish Pesetas - Mounted Artillery Lieutenant, 1912
5 Spanish Pesetas - Engineers’ Cap- Monastery, Tain, 1921
12 Spanish Pesetas - Captain General, 1925