#A to Z Challenge: Heavenly bodies on stamps

AtoZ April2015Challenge

H is for heavenly bodies !

I have always been fascinated with heavenly bodies and the stories different cultures all over the world have about the night sky. They teach us about our history, geography, astronomy, the origins or the beginnings of our world, and our race. I have observed in many folk tales, we discover how we, humans, struggle to find our place in the universe and in the world we live in.

Here are two of my favourite stamps:

Botswana's Sky at Night: The Moon and the women of Setsana.
Botswana’s Sky at Night: The Moon and the women of Setsana.

References to the moon are ubiquitous in local cultures. This stamp depicts a Setswana group of women who, it is said, bring a gentle light to the home, unlike the oppressive heat of the sun. The lunar waxing and waning also coincides with monthly fortunes, the waxing moon being U-shaped, carries problems and diseases, whereas the waning moon spills theses misfortunes on the people. Here the moon is accompanied by the recent concatenation with Jupiter and Venus. “Maphatlalatsane”, the brightest celestial object after the sun and moon. (Source)

This is the complete set of Botswana’s Sky Night series issued in 2009:

From left to right: The Southern Cross and four giraffes; the meteorite and shamans shooting arrows; the solar eclipse and the magical lions; and lastly, the moon with a group of Setsana women.
From left to right: The Southern Cross and four giraffes; the meteorite and shamans shooting arrows; the solar eclipse and the magical lions; and lastly, the moon with a group of Setsana women.

The second one came from Finland, a beautiful black and white Europa-themed stamp:

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The year 2009 was declared as the International Year of Astronomy. The theme year was endorsed by the UN and organised by the International Astronomical Union, with the slogan, The Universe – Yours to Discover. Here’s the complete set of stamps depicting a fantasy landscape with lakes and different heavenly bodies.

Imaged nicked off GoogleImages.
Imaged nicked off GoogleImages.

The stamp on the left bears a comet on its left side, accompanied by a lunar eclipse. The large planet shown on the stamp on the right is Saturn. I like Saturn the most because it looks more than just a lump of rock. It is amazing to see these heavenly bodies above us and with the help of modern technology, we can also see those that are in the far, far side of the universe. Imagine a starry night, or a moon-lit night, one can’t help but wonder about life and the vastness of the universe. It never fails to give me shivers, in a positive kind of way. Now, imagine seeing them up close!

Sunday Stamps 086: Seychelles bare-legged scops-owl

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Hello everyone. I’ve been away from Sunday Stamps for a very long time and here I am again joining in the fun! My stamps came from the beautiful islands of Seychelles:

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The Seychelles Scops-Owl (Otus insularis) was featured in the souvenir sheet issued in 2001 in celebration of Birdlife’s World Bird Festival. The complete sheet includes 5 pieces of stamps each with the same value of R3. On the sheet, it shows the logo of Birdlife International as well as well as the logo of the 2001 Birdlife World Bird Festival.

The Seychelles scops-owl is found only in Morne Seychellois National Park. This species also known as bare-legged scops-owl is a rare scops owl species. In 2002, the scops-owl species was listed as critically endangered species by the IUCN. Here’s the souvenir sheet.

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It reaches a length between 19-22 cm. The wings are about 17cm. Its plumage is rufous brown and exhibits  black shaft streaks. The long grey legs are unfeathered – hence the nickname bare-legged scops-owl.  The eyes are large and golden yellow. The ear tufts are very small. Its call which sounds like a rasping “whaugh” with various “tok tok” notes can be heard from a far distance and in particular in the darkness. Its diet consists of geckos, tree frogs and insects (e.g. locusts).

Additional info and photo of the souvenir sheet from this site and about the scops-owl here.

Sunday Stamps 076: The skies at night, folktales and the beginning of the cosmos

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The Botswana Post has a conservative policy when it comes of issuing stamps, with about four to five stamp releases every year. In 2009, the Sky at Night series came out depicting the lovely night skies of Botswana and celestial bodies and its corresponding folktales.

For thousands of years people have looked heaven-ward and questioned their place in the cosmos. The stars, the moon and sun, and the immense dome of the Kalahari were all celestial signs that united people with nature. It is not surprising that the Naro of D’kar call this greatest of nature’s phenomena, “Nqarri Kgei kwe”… the Face of God.

The starlore of Botswana includes stories about stars and constellations, planets, the sun and moon, as well as bodies with apparent motion such as meteors and comets. These accounts are typically expressive rather than physical in understanding, with most descriptions having a metaphorical or narrative idiom. Many have whimsical associations, some have deeper intrinsic meaning in explaining cosmological origins [emphasis mine] whilst others serve practical purposes such as markers for direction in space and time. – Botswana Post

Folk tales, folk lores and legends all over the world teach us many things for in them we learn a lot about our history, geography, astronomy, origins or beginnings of our world, our race. As I have noticed in most folk tales, etc., we discover how we humans (struggle) try to find our place in the universe and to make sense of the world we live in.As you might have known by now, folk tales around the world fascinate me so much so it is not a surprise that this stamp automatically falls under my favourites list. There are actually four in the series but I only have one that you see below:

Botswana's Sky at Night: The Moon and the women of Setsana.
Botswana’s Sky at Night: The Moon and the women of Setsana.

I found this here explaining the story behind the stamp:

References to the moon are ubiquitous in local cultures. This stamp depicts a Setswana group of women who, it is said, bring a gentle light to the home, unlike the oppressive heat of the sun. The lunar waxing and waning also coincides with monthly fortunes, the waxing moon being U-shaped, carries problems and diseases, whereas the waning moon spills theses misfortunes on the people. Here the moon is accompanied by the recent concatenation with Jupiter and Venus. “Maphatlalatsane”, the brightest celestial object after the sun and moon.

Here is the complete set in the 2009 Sky at Night series that I took from the Botswana Post website:

From left to right: The Southern Cross and four giraffes; the meteorite and shamans shooting arrows; the solar eclipse and the magical lions; and lastly, the moon with a group of Setsana women.
From left to right: The Southern Cross and four giraffes; the meteorite and shamans shooting arrows; the solar eclipse and the magical lions; and lastly, the moon with a group of Setsana women.

Sunday Stamps 074: Christmas stamps for TB

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It’s less than ten days before Christmas and the mere thought of it makes me homesick, especially that our theme for this week is Christmas/holiday stamps. Missing my family and our Christmas celebration back home *sniff*I want to share with you a quaint sheet of 50th  anniversary Christmas Seal stamps from South Africa that was issued in 1979.

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So many interesting stuff here in the stamps.
Kersfees and Kersmis means Christmas and/or Christmas feast/celebration in Afrikaans.

I also notice the presence of double red cross printed in all of the stamps. Turns out this is the Cross of Lorraine, which is the symbol of France. It was also adapted by the Tuberculosis (TB) Society as its worldwide emblem for many, many years. So, if my understanding is right, these stamps were sold to support the TB Society.

I actually have a complete sheet but the lower half is not in good shape as the stamps are glued to a paper. It was like already like that when I got them. I do not even want to try peeling them off one by one lest I might totally destroy the stamps. I guess you could say that the person who sent them to me are not exactly collectors but they’re very good friends of mine who surprised me with this from their holiday in South Africa. I’m very grateful for friends like them! Maraming salamat, Fe and Tony.

To those who are interested this is the complete set:

Photo of stamp from http://salliyanniemagundy.blogspot.com
Photo of stamp from http://salliyanniemagundy.blogspot.com