Saturday, December 29, 2012


Home for the holidays and able to rifle through the postcard archives for another card sent by my Dad on his tour behind the Iron Curtain, which launched me on my postcard collecting quest. Seen here is the Old Town Square of Prague and the imposing Church of Our Lady before Týn in the background. Construction of the Church began in the fourteenth century and continued in fits and spurts until 1511 when the south tower was completed. Part of the Historic Centre of Prague World Heritage site.

Stamp featuring the Carpathian newt, Lissotriton montandoni, a common species in the temperate rivers, marshes, and ponds of Central and Eastern Europe.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Indonesia III

After my recent post about the 2012 additions to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, I can now add my fist Intangible Cultural Heritage postcard to the blog. The card shows Wayang Orang, a type of classical Javanese dance theatrical performance with themes taken from episodes of the Hindu epic stories, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Performances are staged with elaborate costumes and intricate, stylised movement and are a reflection of traditional Javanese court culture.

Commemorative stamp featuring an annual bull-racing celebration held in the East Java island of Madura, called kerapan sapi.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! ¡Feliz Navidad! 聖誕快樂! Buon Natale! !عيد ميلاد مجيد Feliz Natal! Wesołych świąt! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Crăciun fericit! С Рождеством! メリークリスマス! Nollaig shona duit! Selamat Hari Natal! God jul! Maligayang Pasko! Bon Nadal! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! 메리 크리스마스! Среќен Божиќ! Il-Milied it-Tajjeb! Chúc mừng giáng sinh! Geseënde Kersfees! Gozhqq Keshmish! Շնորհաւոր Նոր Տարի եւ Սուրբ Ծնունդ:! শুভ বড়দিন! Nedeleg Laouen! Весела Коледа! Glædelig jul! Hyvää joulua! Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Mele Kalikimaka! Boldog Karácsonyt! ᑯᕕᐊᓇᒃ ᐃᓄᕕᐊ! Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus! Meri Kirihimete! शुभ नाताळ! !كریسمس مبارک Срећан Божић! สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส! Mutlu Noeller! !کرسمَس مبارک  Nadolig Llawen!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Postcard from the French island of Mayotte in the Mozambique Channel separating the mainland from Madagascar. The island had been a colony but voted overwhelmingly (95.2%) to become an integral part of France, akin to the status of the United States of America's Alaska or Hawaiʻi. Despite such strong support, the move was not without controversy. Neighbouring Comoros claims the island as its own and, until relatively recently, had fairly strong support for this claim in the United Nations. Mayotte also has traditional Islamic law governing some aspects of day-to-day life that will be gradually abolished and replaced by France's civil code, to the chagrin of local religious leaders. Many in France also question the benefit of changing Mayotte's status, as the island's economy is poorly developed and the cost of social programmes will be borne by French taxpayers.

There is even implications for postcard collectors too! French overseas territories such as Martinique and French Guiana do not have their own postal systems and use the normal French postal service. This means that Mayotte stamps will no longer be produced and Mayotte will cease to exist as an separate postal entity. My many thanks to Françoise for helping me get this one in under the wire!

Stamp showing tamarind tree and its fruit. Tamarind is native to tropical Africa, but its cultivation has spread around the world due to it popularity as an ingredient in many types of cooking and for its value as a medicinal plant.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The famous temple of Angkor Wat, shrouded in mist. Angkor is pretty well-known, but I'll add that, interestingly, a team of researchers recently concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with a population of up to one million and an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres to the temples at its core. In comparison, Angkor's closest rival, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres in total size.

Stamp showing a carving from the Banteay Srei temple complex located in the Angkor area. The temple was built in the tenth century and is renowned for its intricate and well-preserved carvings.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New 2012 Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements

The UNESCO Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage wrapped up its 2012 session in Paris a few days ago and added a number of elements to the List. As yet, I don't have any postcards of intangible cultural heritage on my site, but I'm sure there are some in my archives that will come to light eventually. 

Although I don't think I'll try to collect the whole set of intangible heritage elements – many are things that would never necessarily be featured on a postcard such as ceramics craftsmanship or weaving – I feel the List is very important, however, because it publicises and gives value to unique elements of the world's cultures which might otherwise go unnoticed or be forgotten. 

The list is divided into three sections. The first is for elements that require urgent measures to keep them alive. Inscription on the List helps to mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures. The second is for representative elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance. The third is a register of best practices which could be adopted by other communities looking to safeguard and promote their intangible heritage.

More information on intangible heritage on UNESCO's site. Congratulations to all newly inscribed elements!

List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Ala-kiyiz and Shyrdak, art of Kyrgyz traditional felt carpets (Kyrgyzstan)
Bigwala, gourd trumpet music and dance of the Busoga Kingdom in Uganda (Uganda)
Earthenware pottery-making skills in Botswana’s Kgatleng District (Botswana)
Noken multifunctional knotted or woven bag, handcraft of the people of Papua (Indonesia)

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Al ‘azi, elegy, processional march and poetry Oman Al-Taghrooda, traditional Bedouin chanted poetry in the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman (United Arab Emirates – Oman)
Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea (Republic of Korea)
Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India (India)
Cherry festival in Sefrou (Morocco)
Craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar, a long-necked string musical instrument (Azerbaijan)
Craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics (Romania)
Cultural practices and expressions linked to the balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire (Mali – Burkina Faso – Côte d'Ivoire)
Falconry, a living human heritage (Austria and Hungary added to United Arab Emirates – Belgium – Czech Republic – France – Republic of Korea – Mongolia – Morocco – Qatar – Saudi Arabia – Spain – Syrian Arab Republic)
Fest-Noz, festive gathering based on the collective practice of traditional dances of Brittany (France)
Festival of Saint Francis of Assisi, Quidbó (Colombia)
Fiesta of the patios in Cordova (Spain)
Folk art of the Matyó, embroidery of a traditional community (Hungary)
Frevo, performing arts of the Carnival of Recife (Brazil)
Ichapekene Piesta, the biggest festival of San Ignacio de Moxos (Bolivia)
Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia, southern Croatia (Croatia)
Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse (Belgium)
Mesir Macunu festival (Turkey)
Nachi no Dengaku, a religious performing art held at the Nachi fire festival (Japan)
Performance of the Armenian epic of “Daredevils of Sassoun” or “David of Sassoun” (Armenia)
Qālišuyān rituals of Mašhad-e Ardehāl in Kāšān (Iran)
Rites and craftsmanship associated with the wedding costume tradition of Tlemcen (Algeria)
Schemenlaufen, the carnival of Imst, Austria (Austria)
Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona (Italy)
Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat (Ecuador)
Venezuela's Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi (Venezuela)
Worship of Hùng kings in Phú Thọ (Viet Nam)

Programmes, projects and activities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage considered to best reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention
Strategy for training coming generations of Fujian puppetry practitioners (China)
Xtaxkgakget Makgkaxtlawana: the Centre for Indigenous Arts and its contribution to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico (Mexico)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kyrgyzstan II

Postcard showing Osh Bazaar, a large farmers' market in the Kyrgyzstani capital of Bishkek. I'm told it's the place to go if you're looking for a fresh sheep's head, shashlik or any other type of Kyrgyz snack! Apparently, they have a lot of pomegranates too.

Thanks to Veronika for sending the card. 

Stamp from a 2008 set of four featuring traditional Kyrgyz felt hats, one of which can actually be spotted in the postcard photo! Too bad the postcard came in an envelope rather than on the card. I know some collectors prefer to receive their cards this way, but I have to admit I've never really understood why. It seems a bit contrary to the nature of a postcard, if you ask me. :-P

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Cannobio is an Italian town on the shores of Lake Maggiore. The area has been settled from as far back as the Roman times. The town's fortunes have waxed and waned over the centuries and have been particularly prosperous during times of smuggling from across the border in nearby Switzerland. Part of the Lake Maggiore and Lake D'Orta Lakelands site on Italy's tentative World Heritage list.

A rather utilitarian and uninspiring Italian postal label.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Canada – Alberta V

Jasper is town in western Canada that is the administrative centre of Jasper National Park, part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage site. Originally established in 1813 as a trading fort on the route over the Yellowhead Pass to the Pacific Ocean, it grew considerably with the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway in 1912.

Although Jasper has always played second fiddle to its more popular sister, Banff, to the southeast, it does feature the Japser Tramway, pictured here, the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada, built in 1964 and reaching a height of 2,277 m above sea level.

Thanks to Paul who was on holiday in Alberta.

Previously featured stamps of baby Arctic hares. Not much to add about this boringly common Canadian stamp series, but, with the ever-so-slightest irk, I learned over the past few days of the existence of not one, but two, additional postal entities to include in my Remaining Countries list: Kurdistan and Nagorno Karabakh. I say slightly irked of course because both Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous part of Iraq, and Nagorno Karabakh, a breakaway republic from Azerbaijan, are places from which it will be difficult to get postcards, but in another more important way, its rather exciting to know that, no matter how long I collect, the collection will always be a work in progress. – Here's to the journey more than the destination! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Canada – Alberta IV

Postcard of the world's largest pysanka (Ukranian Easter egg), located in the town of Vegreville in central Alberta. The egg was built in 1975 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (also pictured) and celebrates the region's strong Ukrainian heritage. The pysanka was even featured on a stamp of famous Canadian roadside attractions.

Three permanent rate, self-adhesive stamps from a set of four featuring baby animals. Pictured here, the Arctic hare, Lepus arcticus.