Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kyrgyzstan II

Postcard from Kyrgyzstani capital of Bishkek showing the State Philharmonic Hall and a statue of Kyrgyz national hero Manas riding his faithful horse Akkula. The deeds of Manas are recounted in a traditional epic poem that is both very old and very long. With over 500,000 lines, it is considered by some to be the longest epic poem in the world and is recited by specially trained orators called manaschi who spend years learning all the verses. The epic is traditionally said to be over a thousand years old, although it is impossible to date precisely as it was handed down through oral tradition and only first recorded in the eighteenth century.

Many thanks to friend Selina who went on holiday in Central Asia with her family. 

A commemorative stamp issued this year in honour of 125th anniversary of Kozhomkul, another Kyrgyzstani national hero who was renowned for his feats of strength, which included lifting his horse, and his leadership abilities.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Qatar II

Card from Doha, the capital city of Qatar. On the left, the cucumber lookalike Doha Tower, designed by my least-favourite "starchitect" Jean Nouvel and completed in 2012. In the centre, the Zigzag Towers, a residential development. On the left, the Aspire Tower, which, at 36 floors, is currently the tallest building in Qatar.

Many thanks and shukran to Salah for sending it.

Stamp on the left is from a 2009 set of 13 on the birds of Qatar. It features the lesser grey shrike, Lanius minor, a common bird in South and Central Europe and western Asia that migrates to southern Africa in the early autumn. Stamp on the right is from a 1998 set of 20 about insects; featured here is the epaulet skimmer, Orthetrum chrysostigma, a common dragonfly found in Africa.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


WOOT! My first card from Turkmenistan, showing various building from the capital, Ashgabat, including the Independence Monument on the far right, and the "Monument of Neutrality" in the centre. The three-legged arch, which became known locally as "The Tripod", was built in 1998 on the orders of Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov. It was topped by a 12-metre gold-plated statue of Niyazov which rotated to always face the sun. Niyazov's successor ordered the monument moved to the outskirts of the city in an attempt to downplay this cult of personality.

Many thanks to friend Selina who was on holiday in Turkmenistan with her family.

Stamp from a set of 24 issued this year featuring Turkmenistani architectural monuments, in this case the ruins of Uly Gyz Gala fortress near the city of Merv.

Friday, November 1, 2013


WOOT! After years of trying and some failed attempts, super excited to have a card from Madagascar in my collection now. A big thanks to friend, Lish, who, lucky me, I just happened to see on Facebook was en route to Madagascar, which she reports was amazing and nuts.

The card indicates that this is the Prince of Ankazoabo, a city in south-western Madagascar. I couldn't really find much info other than the French tried to abolish the Madagascan monarchy during their colonial rule, but were largely unsuccessful. Despite exiling the Queen to Algeria, most of the aristocracy continued to use their customary titles. There is a movement in Madagascar now to restore the monarchy, seen as a possible source of stability following the highly volatile dictatorships and transition governments of the post-colonial period.

Stamp on the left from a 2010 set of eight on flowers of Madagascar. Stamp on the right is a foundry built by as a part of a large industrial complex in the mid 1800s by Jean Laborde, a Frenchman who was shipwrecked in Madagascar in 1831 and remained for the rest of his life, developing the island's industry and eventually becoming the French Consul as well.