Monday, November 12, 2018

Brunei Darussalam - Royal Brunei Police 1971

Poland - Folk Dances 2003

Denmark - Ethnic Jewelry & Costumes 1993

Technical Details: 
Date of Issue: 16. September 1993
Sheetsize: 50 
Design: Jørgen Levinsen 
Perforation: 12¾

3.50 Denmark Kroner - Falster
3.75 Denmark Kroner - Amager
5.00 Denmark Kroner - Læsø
8.75 Denmark Kroner - Rømø

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Austria - Traditional Costume of the Thayatal 2018

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 24 June 2018
Number of Copies: 350.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

In the picturesque Thayatal

For some years now the “Classic traditional costumes” series has been dedicated to the attractive traditional costumes for everyday wear of the various regions of Austria. With this issue we are presenting the traditional costume of the Thayatal in the Waldviertel region of Lower Austria.

Mention the Thayatal, and many people immediately think of the National Park Thayatal, which opened in 2000. Here, where the River Thaya forms the border with the Czech Republic, you will find a real natural paradise – diverse landscapes and an impressive variety of species make the National Park a perfect refuge for nature lovers. Its location in the border region has meant that the flora and fauna were long left to develop undisturbed. Across the border the national park continues as the Národní park Podyjí, also enticing many visitors across the Thaya bridge in Hardegg to the neighbouring country. The picturesque Hardegg Castle, the castle ruins at Kaja and Raabs Castle are also popular tourist destinations in the region.

The traditional costume of the Thayatal

The traditional costume of the Thayatal was revived in the 1920s and 1930s and was developed further by the folklorist and traditional costume researcher from Lower Austria, Helene Grünn, in the 1950s. It is not particularly common even today.

The traditional everyday dirndl of the Thayatal comprises a light, usually natural-coloured top which laces at the front with a red ribbon. The slightly square neckline is emphasized by means of breast gores; the bodice is edged with red piping and embellished with embroidery at the edges, while the back is plain with a rounded neckline. The skirt is usually made of blue cotton with a finely scattered pattern or of checked sheeting, whilst the red and white apron to match the skirt has a finely striped or floral pattern. The dress is worn with a simple white dirndl blouse, possibly with lace trim on the sleeves.

There is no special traditional costume for the men of the Thayatal – they wear dark-coloured trousers with the traditional jacket. Likewise, no special accessories such as hats or scarves are worn with the dirndl. The traditional costume of the Thayatal comes across as plain and practical, as is normal for traditional working garb, yet is attractive thanks to the light colours.

Austria - Traditional Costume of Grinzing 2017

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 11 October 2017
Number of Copies: 405.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

The word Grinzing immediately conjures up thoughts of Heurige (small drinking establishments), wine and Wienerlieder (or Viennese songs). Fittingly, there is also a unique Grinzing traditional costume, which is now being presented on a commemorative stamp. Since Grinzing is a classic wine-growing region, this dirndl is also called a traditional wine-maker’s dress.

Located at the foot of the Kahlenberg, Grinzing was once a suburb of Vienna. Since 1892 it has been part of Döbling, Vienna's 19th district. The picturesque vineyards and the traditional culture of the Heurige make Grinzing a popular destination for visitors from around the world. The historic centre with the Late Gothic Grinzing Church and the grassy village green still give the place the feel of a village, even if Grinzing is now a popular address for Austrian celebrities.

The traditional costume for everyday wear has been known in its current form since the 19th century and was already revived based on historic models around 80 years ago in the inter-war period. Today the stipulations are not too strict. What is special about the dirndl is the cut of the bodice, which is typical of the traditional costumes of Vienna: the right front crosses over the left and buttons at the side. The buttons are also a characteristic decoration, being placed either evenly spaced below one another or with a gap below the top button. This overlapping produces an angular neckline at the front, repeated on the back, which has simple scalloped seams. The neckline, closing edge and scalloped seams are piped. In addition to this asymmetric bodice there is a variant which is laced at the front or back, usually in shades of brown or blue.

The everyday dirndl is made from red, blue and white checked cotton or linen, in the past often being made from the remnants of bedding material. The pattern of the skirt, which comes down to around the ankles, can be different. The buttons are mother of pearl. It is worn with a coordinating, plain coloured or lightly patterned apron which hangs about five centimetres below the hem of the skirt and is tied tightly at the waist. A white dirndl blouse with short or mid-length sleeves finishes the costume. A variant for special occasions is made using finer materials such as silk or brocade in light or dark blue with silver buttons and a fine silver edging. However, this costume for special occasions is rarely seen.

There is no typical traditional dress for the men of Grinzing. In the wine-growing regions of Lower Austria and Vienna the so-called “Kalmukjanker”, also known as the “Hauerjanker” or wine-grower's jacket, is widespread. Kalmuk is a robust, densely packed cotton or sheep’s wool material (in the past waste fabric was also used to make it), which is used to make jackets for the sailors on the Danube. The jacket is worn in varying cuts, with a raised collar, single or double-breasted. It was originally fastened with mother of pearl buttons. Buttons made from antlers only began to appear in the 20th century.

Austria - Traditional Costume of Pöttschinger 2017

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 08 May 2017
Number of Copies: 305.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

For the “Classic traditional costumes” series it is, on this occasion, the traditional costume of the municipality of Pöttsching in the north of Burgenland that is to be presented.

This traditional costume’s origins can be traced back to the traditional folk costumes of Burgenland and the musician from Pöttsching, Peter Zauner. Among other things, Peter Zauner was a violinist under Carl Michael Ziehrer and also a composer: he wrote the melody for the regional anthem for Burgenland. After the First World War he founded the Pöttsching brass band. In 1928 a large musical festival was organised in his home region, at which Zauner and his band appeared for the first time in the traditional costume of Burgenland, and where traditional songs and folk dances were performed with great success. Thereafter it was decided to include folk music and dances in the national education and thus to ensure that these traditions survived for future generations. Even today, folk dance and music continue to be accorded great
significance in this little municipality, with a musical clef even being included in its coat of arms.

1980 and 1981 saw the first performances of folk dance at the Pöttsching Farmers’ Ball and at farmers’ markets, initially in a variety of dirndls with the males dressed in black trousers, white shirts and red neckerchiefs. Eventually the traditional dress of Pöttsching was reproduced by Martina Löffler and Dr. Clara Prickler from Heimatwerk using old photographs. It was made and embroidered by the dancers themselves in 1984 and was presented for the first time at the music festival to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Pöttsching music society. The men’s traditional dress was made in 1985 based on the traditional costume worn by Peter Zauner.

The men’s traditional costume is typical for Burgenland: black breeches and boots, a white shirt, a waistcoat with a collar, a red edging and silver buttons, the last four of which are dress fasteners. The waistcoat is either worn open or with the bottom six rows of buttons fastened. A particularly eye-catching feature is the “Firta”, a kind of apron or cloth worn around the waist by the men, one corner of which is tucked into the waistband at the hip, on the right-hand side for single men and the left for married men. In summer a black hat is added or the head left bare, whilst in winter it is worn with an Astrakhan hat – a sailor’s hat made from karakul wool – and a black jacket.

The women’s clothing comprises a black stomacher laced at the front and a white blouse. Girls wear a white skirt with scattered flowers and three blue bands at the hem; older ladies sometimes a dark blue skirt with scattered flowers. This is worn with a blue striped apron and, on cold days, a short black jacket or a shawl. The head is usually left bare.

The Pöttsching folk dance group was founded in 1979 and its 20 or so members are committed to preserving traditional customs. It performs at both regional and international folk dance events and demonstrates both the dances of Burgenland and international traditional folk dances.

Austria - Traditional Costume of Schärding 2016

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 29 May 2016
Number of Copies: 470.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

As part of its "Klassische Trachten" (classic traditional costumes) series, Austrian Post is presenting the summer costume of the Schärding district, which is still very new: this revised traditional costume was only approved in this style by the Heimatwerk for Upper Austria in 2003. Like many others, this costume for everyday wear is made from cotton or linen, but has an unusual style and was designed as the summer costume for the Schärding region as part of a revival of national costumes in Upper Austria. The bodice is made of checked cotton or linen with a rounded neckline, and is fastened at the front by means of hooks. A bias-cut bib, which, like the neck and armholes, is finished with monochrome piping, is attached over the fastening. The sides of the back section are also bias-cut. The skirt, in a matching pattern or made from a matching monochrome linen or cotton, is hand-gathered and is pleated beneath the apron. The colour of the cotton or linen apron is determined by the dress. If the bodice and skirt are checked, then a floral or monochrome apron is chosen, otherwise it can be striped or have a printed motif. A fine white, usually collarless, cotton blouse with puffed or three-quarter length sleeves is also worn as part of the summer costume. A kimono blouse can also be worn. There has been a traditional costume for special days for Schärding since 1950, but the summer costume has only existed since 2003. The summer costume for the Schärding district was created as part of a revival of traditional costumes in Upper Austria, where, under the motto "Altes erhalten – Neues gestalten" ("Keep the old – bring in the new"), they are striving not only to retain the traditional costumes, but also to revive them and make them a part of current everyday life through sensitive reworking. As a result, every municipality in the Schärding district now has its own local traditional costume. The municipalities of Schärding and Neuhaus am Inn and of Wernstein and Neuburg am Inn share a local costume, including this summer costume, which represents the Schärding district and was designed by the women of the Goldhaubengemeinschaft (an association dedicated to the preservation of local traditions) of the Unteres Innviertel region. A book cataloguing the local traditional costumes from this area has been published, showing not only the clothes themselves, but also suitable accessories, such as the "Handstiezel", knitted or crocheted mitts which can be worn with the splendid Goldhauben dress (, it is not only matters relating to the revival of traditional costumes that keep the women of the Goldhaubengemeinschaft busy; they also collect money for charity by selling Easter and Christmas cards and use it to support institutions such as Caritas, Licht ins Dunkel, the Kinderkrebshilfe children's cancer charity and many others.

Austria - Traditional Costume of the Montafon 2016

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 30 June 2016
Number of Copies: 470.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

In Vorarlberg traditional costumes vary greatly by region. As part of its “Klassische Trachten” (classic traditional costumes) series, Austrian Post is presenting the traditional working garb of the Montafon, which is still worn unchanged to this day, and is one of the historic traditional costumes worn in the valley. This so-called “Wärchtigjüpple” (workday dress), the everyday working garb of the ladies of the Montafon, impresses with its simplicity. Both the skirt and the bodice are made from a dark, plain-coloured worsted flannel or pure wool. The tightly fitted bodice is high-necked, but allows the lace (“Spitzle”) of the white blouse worn underneath to show at the neck. This “Hemdle” or blouse is made of linen, and the borders are decorated with hand-made lace or decorative stitching (“Bäumlestich”). A blue striped or plain-coloured cotton apron is worn over the skirt; a black striped silk apron creates a particularly fine effect. This is accompanied by black stockings and a cotton scarf. The latter is white with a scattered red or blue pattern and is folded into a triangle and worn around the neck. The men’s costume comprises black loden knee breeches, black woollen hose, a white shirt and a red waistcoat, called the “Lieble”. The “Tschopa”, a dark blue jacket with two rows of buttons at the back is worn over this. Particularly eye-catching is the headgear: a black top hat which is only found in the Montafon. As for the traditional costume for festival days worn by the women of the Montafon, which dates back to the Baroque era, it is the embroidered stomacher which is laced into the front of the bodice and the elaborately decorated ribbons over the apron in its muted colours which are particularly eye-catching. The “Glöggli-Tschopa”, the short jacket, is accompanied by an otter skin hat, a “Mäßli” – a kind of brimless top hat – or a “Sanderhut”, a black straw hat with a bow. The term “Schlutta” describes a brocade jacket with delicate white lace at the collar. This costume for special days is completed by a red underskirt and red stockings, buckled shoes and a bow at the neck. Unmarried girls in the Montafon wear a special outfit, called the “Schäppelmaigana”: The “libli” (bodice) with its embroidered stomacher is worn with a white blouse. The name comes from the “Schäppel”, the headgear: a small coronet of silver or gold filaments and coloured glass balls which is affixed to the head. The artistically embroidered ribbons are woven into the girls’ plaited hair and hang down their backs to the ground. The Schäppel is only worn when the weather is good and with no outer wear over it. These historic traditional costumes continue to be worn by numerous societies for traditional costumes, music and dance groups, with the Vorarlberger Landestrachtenverband (national association of people wearing traditional costume for Vorarlberg) supporting this tradition and ensuring that local traditions are maintained.

Austria - Traditional Costume of Tyrol 2015

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 02 May 2015
Number of Copies: 550.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

Tyrol has a colourful and unique wealth of classical trachts and the customs that are interwoven with it. The Ziller Valley, for instance, stands out for its uniform tracht that is above all a must at festive occasions – Austrian Post is presenting, however, the old Tux everyday tracht, today undergoing a fashion renaissance, as a commemorative from the “Classical tracht” series. The Tux everyday tracht is characterised by muted colours. This is due to the fact that the Tux tracht is not only made using entirely natural materials such as cotton, linen and wool but also the fabrics are coloured using natural dyes. The apparent simplicity of the everyday Tux tracht is broken up by the fine and complex details that are often only seen at second sight. One conspicuous feature, for instance, is the single-coloured embroidered belt, which, in the original, is decorated with quill embroidery. This belt, originally worn mainly by farmers to protect them against blows from a sabre, is today made using genuine peacock quills and an amazing degree of skill in only a few craft businesses. The loden, made using the wool from Tyrolean mountain sheep, is sewn into a light grey jacket, the “Tuxer”. The men’s everyday tracht also includes knickerbockers made of coarse linen, a woollen bib, white kneelength socks, black shoes, a white shirt with upright collar and a narrow black tie. A dark felt hat serves to cover the head. Today’s Tux women’s tracht is much more varied than the men’s. The festive tracht in black, the “Röckl”, is characterised by a colourful apron and a white shawl, a richly decorated hat with gold tassles, and above all the square neckline in which an embroidered white silk cloth is worn. The high quality fabrics and the fine finishing make this tracht very expensive, and for this reason the garments used to be passed on from generation to generation. The basic elements of the simple everyday tracht include a dark bodice, under which, to combat the chilly temperatures in the Tyrolean Alps, a mostly long-armed linen blouse with puffed sleeves is worn. An apron made of wool or silk is tied mostly high up on the waist of the skirt, the manner in which the bow is tied indicating the marital status of the woman wearing it. The commemorative shows the Tux everyday tracht, which has lost nothing of its originality. This is in particular the achievement of the Tyrolean Tracht Association, which is committed to ensuring the preservation of regional peculiarities and customs.

Austria - Traditional Costume of Austrian 2014

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 18 July 2014
Number of Copies: 700.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

The Ausseer Tracht commemorative is the ideal continuation of the “Classical traditional costumes” series, since in the Ausseerland the traditional costume is still today worn by young and old – and not only on festive occasions. In this charming region of the Styrian Salzkammergut, tradition remains alive, intertwined with modern everyday life. Archduke Johann had a particular close connection with his people and, when at the beginning of the 19th century he began to show himself in the traditional Styrian hunter’s costume, this former working garb of the simple rural population became socially respectable. His grandnephew, Emperor Franz Joseph, adopted this style and spent his summer in the Salzkammergut dressed in Loden. Elegant society soon began to imitate him, and in this way the traditional peasant costume became the elegant outfit that, while adapting to current fashion trends, never lost its original nature. The classical Ausseer women’s Tracht today consists of a green top, a pink skirt and a lilac apron, replaced by a black apron on festive occasions. In contrast, men wear handsewn lederhosen, the length adjusting to the season of the year, Loden jacket with a broad pleat at the back, long green socks, sturdy shoes, hat and a “Bindl”, the Ausseer cravat. The multiplicity of the variations, the fine patterns and colourful accessories make the Ausseer Tracht a focus of attention, an expression of the joy of life and the love of the homeland, as well as providing the right attire for practically every occasion. This great love of the Tracht is also the basis for an important branch of the economy in the Ausseerland. In no other region of Austria are there so many craft businesses for the making of the Tracht, ensuring the originality and authenticity of the clothing. These include bespoke tailors and seamstresses, lederhosen makers, milliners and quill embroiderers. Hand-printers make the attractive silk scarves, silk aprons and cravats using what are known as “Models”, complex stencils made of wood or brass with which the patterns are printed onto the material by hand. The Tracht Biennale has already taken place twice in Bad Aussee, an event presenting not only music and dance but also the colourful splendour of the Tracht

Austria - Traditional Costume of Gmunden 2013

Product Information:
Date of Issue: 23 August 2013
Number of Copies: 812.000
Print Style: Offset
Design: Anita Kern
Type: Sondermarke
Printed: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V

The present commemorative is the start of a new series presenting classical traditional costumes (tracht), hence a series that constitutes an interesting combination of tradition, love of the home country, fashion and everyday life in a contemporary interpretation and a corresponding pictorial language.

The first stamp presents the costume from Gmunden, a charming small town on the north banks of Lake Traunsee in the Upper Austrian Salzkammergut. Back under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Gmunden was regarded as a popular spot for a summer holiday, and even today the town with its approx. 13,000 inhabitants is one of the most popular holiday resorts in the region. The term tracht (from Old High German “traht(a)”, Middle High German “dracht”: “what is worn”) is generally defined as a traditional or historic costume.

It is the dress code for a specific area, a province or members of specific groups of the population or professions. In many parts of the world, traditional costume has largely vanished in the course of globalisation, which has also included culture and fashion, and is only still worn in the form of “festive costumes”. In many areas however, people still wear traditional clothing for everyday use – the kilt in Scotland, the sari in India or the kimono in Japan are, at least as far as concerns the stereotypical image, the dirndl and the lederhosen in Austria.

The origin of the regional popular costume dates back to the Biedermeier age and the Rococo. In contrast to other types of clothing the Tracht is precisely defined in terms of colour, cut, choice of material and even the way it is worn. Generally a distinction is made between the “everyday Tracht” and the “festive Tracht”, the latter often being a very complex piece of work. The success of the Gmunden Tracht is probably due to the fact that while retaining the tradition aspect it has changed slightly again and again over the course of time, reflecting the influence of fashion. The dirndl was sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, and also the colours of the individual items have changed regularly. However, in Gmunden the Tracht is still alive and is certainly more than just a relic from bygone days. And it almost goes without saying that the people here attend festive occasions in their best gear – and that is quite simply the attractive Dirndl and the smart Janker jacket.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fiji - Weddings in Fiji 2009

Date of Issue: 17 August 2009

0.20 Fijian Dollar - Chinese Wedding
0.40 Fijian Dollar - Muslim Wedding
1.50 Fijian Dollar - Indian Wedding
3.00 Fijian Dollar - Fijian Wedding

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hong Kong - Cantonese Opera Repertory 2018

Technical Details:
Date of Issue: 09 October 2018
Design: Arde LAM
Illustration: Martin LAU
Printer: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V., the Netherlands
Process: Lithography
Stamp Size: 43 mm x 36 mm
Stamp Layout: Pane of 25 stamps
Perforation: 14 x 13.25 (one elliptical perforation on each vertical)
Paper: Paper with security fibres

"Cantonese Opera Repertory" Special Stamp Issue

Cantonese opera is a representative traditional performing art form in Hong Kong that was officially inscribed onto the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. It has become an important icon of our local culture - one which is worth savouring and passing on. In Cantonese opera the performers present various stories with the "four basic skills" of singing, acting, narrating and martial arts, complemented by distinctive music, costumes, props and stage settings.

The set of special stamps on "Cantonese Opera Repertory", featuring six immensely popular Cantonese opera plays and their classic scenes, includes The Story of Princess Changping ($2), The Moon Pavilion ($2.60), Lord Guan Gong Releasing Lady Diao Chan ($3.40), The Princess in Distress ($3.70), Butterfly Lovers ($4.90) and Lady Zhaojun Departing for the Frontier ($5). The stamps show an important scene from each opera with vivid and distinctive portrayals of the characters in the plays.

Most of the plots are based on folk tales, Chinese history and myths. As the scripts of the plays are often created by talented writers, the lyrics are regarded as literary classics. Apart from being a popular form of entertainment, Cantonese opera is also a precious cultural tradition that we should preserve. For those looking to learn more, the stories behind these six great works are outlined in some detail in an attractive bilingual Prestige Stamp Booklet, accompanied by colourful photos of the key scenes from the performances.

Official First Day Covers at $1.30 each will be put on sale at all post offices from tomorrow (September 21). The special stamps and associated philatelic products will be displayed at the General Post Office, Tsim Sha Tsui Post Office, Tsuen Wan Post Office, Sha Tin Central Post Office and Tuen Mun Central Post Office from the same day. Advance orders for servicing self-provided covers will be accepted at all philatelic offices from tomorrow to September 28.

Stamp products include mint stamps, stamp sheets, mini-pane, presentation pack and prestige stamp booklet. Serviced first day covers are also available at the philatelic offices on the issue day only.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Austria - Leather Pants 2015

Release Date 24 September 2015
Number of Copies: 150000
Design: D. Swarovski KG, Wattens, Tyrol
Type: Block Issue
Stamp Size: 34.83 mm x 41.50 mm x 1 mm
Face Value: 6.30 Euro
Printed by: D. Swarovski KG, Wattens, Tyrol
Printing Style: Alcantara Laserschnitt with XILION Flat Backs in Golden Shadow

In 2004, special stamps featuring Swarovski crystals were presented for the first time, which were presented as a world first in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds. The cooperation with the internationally renowned company Swarovski, which produces high-quality crystals in the Tyrolean town of Wattens for more than 120 years, is continued with this unconventional edition: Swarovski crystals adorn a special stamp made of alcantara leather in the form of alpine leather trousers.

About Swarovski

Swarovski offers a comprehensive product portfolio characterized by unique quality, craftsmanship and creativity. The company was founded in Austria in 1895 and develops, produces and sells jewelery, accessories and lighting solutions in addition to high-quality crystals, synthetic gemstones and genuine gemstones. The Crystal business unit, which celebrates its 120th anniversary this year and is run by the family in its fifth generation, has approximately 2,560 stores worldwide in approximately 170 countries. More than 25,000 employees generated sales of around 2.33 billion euros in 2014. Together with its sister companies Swarovski Optik (optical precision instruments) and Tyrolit (grinding tools), the Crystal business unit forms the Swarovski Group. In 2014, the group, with more than 30,000 employees, generated sales of around 3.05 billion euros. In 2012, the Swarovski Foundation was founded, which - in the philanthropic tradition of company founder Daniel Swarovski - promotes creativity and culture and works for the benefit of mankind and the protection of natural resources. The combination of Swarovski crystals with leather pants is actually obvious: both are something of a symbol of the Alpine region and are often associated with Austria. So the leather pants for many Tyroleans is a fashionable basic equipment. Usually it is made of deerskin and hand-sewn, shows in everyday rather short, on holidays, however, as Kniebundhose. Suspenders not only ensure a good fit, but are often artistically embroidered on the crossbar. The buttoned bib is also typical for a traditional leather pants, as emperor Franz Joseph used to hunt more than 100 years ago, as well as the edelweiss or oak leaf embroidery on the trouser legs. Today, many national costume associations are dedicated to the preservation of traditional costumes in the Austrian provinces, and through events such as the Munich Oktoberfest, dirndl and lederhosen are today even considered modern, but usually in less traditional variants.Incidentally, staghorn buttons are usually used on real leather pants, not Swarovski crystals. The high-quality leather stamp with sparkling Swarovski crystals thus combines two traditions characteristic of Austria in a completely new form into a very special little work of art.


In 2015, Austria issued the first postage stamp made of leather. It is in the shape of a pair of lederhosen and has 6 Swarovski crystals embedded in it.

The combination of Swarovski crystals and a pair of lederhosen is actually obvious. Both are a kind of symbol of the Alpine world and are often associated with Austria. For instance, lederhosen are part of the basic wardrobe for many a Tyrolean. They are usually made out of deerskin, sewn by hand and short for daily wear or in the form of knickerbockers for special occasions. Braces serve to ensure that the trousers sit well and often have fine embroidery work on the cross-piece. The buttoned fly flap is also typical of traditional lederhosen as worn by Emperor Franz Joseph when out hunting over 100 years ago, and the trouser legs are often decorated with edelweiss or oak-leaf embroidery. Many traditional costume associations are today dedicated to the preservation of the traditional costumes in Austria’s provinces, while events such as the Munich Oktoberfest have helped to make the dirndl and the lederhosen modern once again, although in less traditional designs. Incidentally, the buttons on real lederhosen are usually made of buck horn and not Swarovski crystals.

The high-quality leather stamp with sparkling Swarovski crystals thus combines two traditions characteristic of Austria in a completely new way to create a very special miniature work of art.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Austria - Styrian Hat 2018

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 22 September 2018

Tradition and Innovation

A completely new take on the classic Styrian hat: as an embroidered stamp it constitutes a philatelic highlight and represents an exciting combination of Austrian tradition and innovation.

The Styrian suit was already a popular item of clothing in Styria in the 19th century. A famous wearer of the Styrian suit was Archduke Johann, who used it to demonstrate his connection to the common folk. In this way the rural costume found its way into noble and bourgeois society as the clothing of choice for keeping cool in the summer and for hunting.

The grey loden jacket with its dark green trim is traditionally accompanied by a Styrian hat. This is primarily manufactured from dark grey or dark green woollen felt or animal hair; the hat band islikewise usually dark green and is decorated with a “Gamsbart” (made from the greyish black hairfrom the neck of a chamois buck) or feathers.

The Styrian hat as a stamp

The traditional Vorarlberg company Hämmerle & Vogel, with its headquarters in Lustenau, has been in the business of embroidery for 60 years. International clients such as Chanel and Oscar de la Rentarely on the company’s expertise. Austrian Post's philatelic programme deliberately draws repeatedlyon technical innovations: the Dirndl stamp from 2016 was the first embroidered stamp to be issued, and the current Styrian hat stamp is the logical continuation.

Every Styrian hat stamp takes around 6,600 insertions of the needle and 33 metres of embroidery thread to make. The hat, in the special “Styrian green”, is made of exclusive merino sheep’s wool thread produced by the company Schoeller from Hard in Vorarlberg. This “Shaminah” merino woolthread impresses with its 14.5 micron wool fibre, the finest and highest grade of wool fibre thatexists. The sheep’s wool used for this comes from a number of Australian farms which have been awarded “Bluesign” certification for their sustainable textile production. The gamsbart decoration ismade of two twisted black and grey threads. The hat is affixed to an ecru background with guipure lace perforations.

Together with the dirndl stamp and the Alcantara leather Lederhosen stamp, the Styrian hat stamp bears witness to the importance of traditions in fashion within Austria.

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.