Saturday, February 26, 2011

#591 Pakistan...Thanks Syed!

#590 Russia...Thanks Vladimir!

The 15p stamp was issued in 2010 featuring World Cultural Heritage in Russia - Curonian Spit - Dunes and Forest view.

The Curonian Spit is an outstanding example of a landscape of sand dunes that is under constant threat from natural forces (wind and tide). After disastrous human interventions that menaced its survival, the Spit was reclaimed by massive protection and stabilization works begun in the 19th century and still continuing to the present day.

The Spit is a peninsula that separates the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon in a slightly concave arc for 98 km from the Kaliningrad Peninsula to the town of Klaipeda. The largest settlements in the Lithuanian part are Smiltyne, Pervalka, Juodkrante, Preila and Nida. Dune valleys divide the ridge into separate dune massifs, and capes are generally formed in front of these valleys.

Formation of the Spit began some 5,000 years ago. Mesolithic people whose main source of food was from the sea settled there, working bone and stone brought from the mainland. In the 1st millennium CE West Baltic tribes (Curonians and Prussians) established seasonal settlements there, to collect fish, and perhaps also for ritual purposes. The centre of Kaup is the last unexcavated large proto-urban settlement of the Viking period. The invasion of Prussia by Teutonic Knights in the 13th century was gradually driven out, but armed conflict continued in the region until the 15th century. The Spit had great strategic importance, and in consequence the knights built castles at Memel (1252), Noihauz (1283) and Rossitten (1372). They also settled German farmers around the castles, building roads and clearing woodland for agriculture.
Baltic peoples set up settlements on the Spit and the population increased, however, as their main activities were fishing and beekeeping. In the 16th century a new process of dune formation began and settlements became buried in sand. The works took the form of the construction of a protective bank of sand to prevent further ingress of dunes (a process that took most of the century) and the stabilization of dunes by means of brushwood hurdles, accompanied by reforestation.

The most significant element of the Spit's cultural heritage is represented by the old fishing settlements. The earliest of these were buried in sand when the woodland cover was removed. Those that have survived are all along the coast of the lagoon. At the end of the 19th century more elaborate buildings - lighthouses, churches, schools and villas - began to be erected alongside the simpler vernacular houses. This was partly due to the fact that the Spit became a recreational centre: Juodkrante became famous as a health resort as early as 1840 and Nida, Preila and Pervalka were given official recognition in this category in 1933. In the centre, Nida, the largest settlement on the Spit, has a linear plan based on a single main street that runs parallel to the lagoon and which developed spontaneously in the 19th century.

The most northerly part of the Spit, Smiltyne, was not settled until the mid-19th century, when a health resort was created. It is the point where ferries from Klaipeda on the mainland arrive on the Spit. The surviving buildings of cultural significance are the houses of fishermen built during the 19th century. In their original form they were built from wood and thatched with reeds. A homestead consisted of two or three buildings: a dwelling house, a cattle shed, and a smokehouse for curing fish. These were located to one side of the long narrow plot, leaving space for a kitchen garden and for drying nets. The houses were constructed at right angles to the street. In the 20th century the fishermen's houses were enlarged and new ones built with their long sides to the street. As a result, the appearance of the settlements was radically altered.

Other buildings are the sturdy lighthouse at Pervalka and the neo-Gothic Evangelical Lutheran churches at Juodkrante and Nida, both built in the 1880s. The cemeteries of Nida, Preila, Pervalka and Juodkrante are of interest.

The 8p stamp is from 2007 Native Horse Breeds issue showing Don Breed.

The Russian Don is a breed of horse developed in and named after the steppes region of Russia where the Don River flows. Utilized originally as cavalry horses for the Cossacks, they are currently used for under-saddle work and driving.

#589 France...Thanks Robert!

The 0.58€ stamp is Frech 2011 Heart stamp created by Maurizio Galante, a famous Paris fashion designer. The stamp is titled "Paint me",giving you the freedom to colorize it at your will. Thus, everyone can manifest creativity and become author of his own stamp.

The 3fr stamp was issued in 1996 celebrating Centenary of Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica in Lyon. It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1896 in a dominating position in the city, as a mark of the triumph of Christian values over the socialists of the Lyon commune of 1870, like the similarly-inspired Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris. Its design, by Pierre Bossan, draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, two non-Gothic models that were unusual choices at the time. It features fine mosaics, superb stained glass,and a crypt of Saint Joseph. The basilica, which offers guided tours and contains a Museum of Sacred Art, receives 1.5 million visitors annually.

The site it occupies was once the Roman forum of Trajan, the forum vetus, thus its name. Perched on top of the Fourvière hill, the basilica looms impressively over the city of Lyon, where it can be seen from many vantage points; not unintentionally, the basilica of Fourvière has become a symbol of the city of Lyon. The basilica has four main towers, and a belltower. It is topped with a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary. At certain times, members of the public may access the basilica's north tower for a spectacular 180-degree view of Lyon and its suburbs.

Notre-Dame de Fourvière was included when the whole historic center of Lyon was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

#588 Pakistan...Thanks Shamshad!

#587 Indonesia...Thanks Juris!

#586 United Kingdom...Thanks Jackie!

#585 Russia...Thanks Darbinian!

The 20R stamp was issued in 2008 celebrating 190 years of Goznak,which is a Unitary enterprise in Russia, responsible for the production of coins and bank notes.

In 1815, after the currency crisis caused by the French invasion of Russia (1812), the government established the so-called Department of State Currency Production (Экспедиция заготовления государственных бумаг) under the authority of the Ministry of Finance; Dmitry Guriev, Minister of Finance, assigned engineer Agustín de Betancourt to design and build the modern, steam-powered currency printshop which was completed in 1818.

#584 Russia...Thanks Olya!

The 1000r stamp is from 1995 Early Russian Dukes issue depicting Alexander Nevski (1220-63),Duke of Novgorod,Grand Duke of Vladimir,during some of the most trying times in the city's history.

Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while employing collaborationist policies towards the powerful Golden Horde.

#583 Portugal...Thanks Andre!

These 2 stamps were issued in 2010 commemorating 200 years of the Peninsular War.

The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807 and then in 1808 turned on its ally, Spain. The war lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814.

Spain's liberation struggle marked one of the first national wars and the emergence of large-scale guerrillas (Guerrilha, in Portuguese), from which the English language borrowed the word. The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas. In 1810, a reconstituted national government fortified itself in Cádiz and proved unable to recruit, train, or equip effective armies due to being under siege. British and Portuguese forces secured Portugal, using it as a secure position from which to launch campaigns against the French army while Spanish guerrilleros bled the occupiers. Combined, the regular and irregular allied forces prevented Napoleon's marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces.

The many years of fighting in Spain gradually wore down Napoleon's famous French Army. While the French armies were often victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units frequently cut off, harassed, or overwhelmed by partisans. The Spanish army, though beaten and driven to the peripheries, could not be stamped out and continued to hound the French relentlessly.

The constant threatening presence of a British force under Arthur Wellesley, which became the most experienced and steady force in the British army, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. Allied to the British, the demoralised Portuguese army underwent extensive reorganising, retraining and refitting under the command of British General William Carr Beresford, appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese Royal family, and fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellington.

In 1812, as Napoleon embarked upon an invasion of Russia which ended in disaster, a combined allied army under Arthur Wellesley pushed into Spain and liberated Madrid. Marshal Soult led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees and into France over the winter of 1813-14.

War and revolution against Napoleon's occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, later a cornerstone of European liberalism. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability, and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberal and absolutist factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850. The cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion, revolution, and restoration led to the independence of many of Spain's American colonies and the independence of Brazil from Portugal.

#582 France...Thanks Bernard!

#581 Portugal...Thanks Samuel!

The 0.47€ and 0.32€ stamps were issued in 2010 celebrating Centenary of the Republic of Portugal.

The revolution of 1910 was a republican coup d'état that occurred in Portugal on 5 October 1910, which deposed King Manuel II and established the Portuguese First Republic.

Prior to the coup, Prime Minister João Franco stepped down and went into exile. New elections were held, but factionalism prevented the formation of a stable government. On 1 October 1910, a visit by president Hermes da Fonseca of Brazil provided a pretext for extensive republican demonstrations. On 3 October the Army refused to put down a mutiny on Portuguese warships anchored in the estuary of the Tagus River, and instead took up positions around Lisbon. On 4 October, two of the warships began to shell the royal palace, causing Manuel II and the royal family to flee to Britain. On 5 October, a provisional republican government was organized with the writer Teófilo Braga as President.

The revolution and the republic which it spawned were anticlerical and had a "hostile" approach to the issue of church and state separation, like that of the French Revolution, the Spanish Constitution of 1931 and the Mexican Constitution of 1917. As part of the anticlerical revolution, the bishops were driven from their dioceses, the property of clerics was seized by the state, wearing of the cassock was banned, all minor seminaries were closed and all but five major seminaries. A law of 22 February 1918 permitted only two seminaries in the country, but they had not been given their property back. Religious orders were expelled from the country, including 31 orders comprising members in 164 houses (in 1917 some orders were permitted to form again). Religious education was prohibited in both primary and secondary school.

The involvement of mutinous warships in the revolution prefigured a similar involvement in both the October Revolution in 1917 Russia and the fall of the German Monarchy in 1918.

#580 Brazil...Thanks Antonio!

#579 Netherlands...Thanks Veggel!

#578 France...Thanks Roger!

#577 Hong Kong...Thanks Johnson!

#576 Greece...Thanks Anthony!

#575 Australia...Thanks Juris!

#574 Belgium...Thanks Freddy!

#573 Turkey...Thanks Levent!

Friday, February 11, 2011

#572 Hungary...Thanks Tamas!

The 400ft stamp was issued in 2008 celebrating 650th Anniversary of the Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle,which is a medieval illustrated chronicle from the Kingdom of Hungary from the fourteenth century. It represents the international artistic style of the royal courts in the court of Louis I of Hungary.

The 147 pictures of the chronicle are great source of information on medieval Hungarian cultural history, costume, and court life in the 14th century. Many miniatures seen inside this chronicle are painted with gold. The artistic value of the miniatures are quite high, if we compare similar miniatures from Western Europe from the same time. The characters are drawn with detail and with knowledge of anatomy. Even the eyeballs are painted, which can only be checked through microscope. It is a fact that all miniatures showing Attila, the Hun are disrupted or even rubbed out (especially the last, showing Attila's death); this cannot be due to the time as all other miniatures and text are preserved well. The miniatures are using a lot of symbolism, i.e. "primus ingressus" ('first incoming') is with a camel, while the "secundus ingressus" ('second incoming') is with a white horse, probably meaning that entering the Carpathian Basin the first time was not a successful or was a culturally diverted act (as the camel is a "diverted" horse and white horse is the "pure quality"). The text of Latin is without error and is representing a high quality.
For unknown reasons, the chronicle was stored in Vienna, Austria, where it was found in the 19th century; this is why it is also referred as "Vienna Illuminated Chronicle". The manuscript is presently kept in the National Széchényi Library in Budapest (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, Budapest).

The miniature sheet is from 2008 Our Living Heritage IV illustrating Water buffalo.

#571 Japan...Thanks Maria!

#570 Mexico...Thanks Jaime!

#569 France...Thanks Carboni!

The four 0.50€ stamps are from 2003 European Capitals series showing attractions in Luxembourg: Citadelle Saint-Esprit,Notre Dame Cathedral,Adolphe Bridge and Grand Duke's Palace.

#568 Kazakhstan...Thanks Viktor!

#567 Greece...Thanks George!

The 0.05€ stamp is from 2010 New Acropolis Museum issue showing Peplos Kore,circa 530BC.

The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.
The museum was founded in 2003, while the Organisation of the Museum was established in 2008. It opened to the public on June 21, 2009. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres.The Organisation for the Construction of the new museum is chaired by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Professor Emeritus of Archaeology, Dimitrios Pandermalis.
Kore (Greek - Κόρη - maiden; plural korai) is the name given to a type of ancient Greek sculpture of the Archaic period.

The 0.01€ stamp is from 2010 Greek Art issue showing a painting by Giannis Gaitis.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

#566 Bulgaria...Thanks Lilia!

The 0.55 Lev stamp on the left was issued in 2007 commemorating 1100 years of death of Boris I of Bulgaria,who was the ruler of First Bulgarian Empire in 852–889.

The early 9th century marked the beginning of a fierce rivalry between the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople and the Catholic Church in Rome. When Charlemagne was proclaimed Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire the Pope broke its political relation with Byzantines and was naturally supported by the Franks. After the Treaty of Verdun in 843 the strong and aggressive Eastern Francia united most of the German people and began to expand towards Slavic populated lands to the east. That expansion was fully supported by Rome which sought ways to extend its influence to the east. As a response Mojmír I managed to unite some Slavic princes and formed Great Moravia in 833. His successor Rastislav fought against the Germans.Both states tried to maintain good relations with Bulgaria on account of its considerable military power.

Boris I was the son and successor of Presian I of Bulgaria. In 852 he sent emissaries to the Eastern Francia to confirm the peace treaty from 845. At the time of his accession he threatened the Byzantine with an invasion but his armies did not attack and received a small area in Strandzha to the south-east. The peace treaty, however, was not signed although both states changed temporary delegation.In 854 the Moravian Prince Rastislav persuaded Boris I to help him against East Francia. According to some sources, some Franks bribed the Bulgarian monarch to attack Louis. The Bulgarian-Slav campaign was a disaster and Louis the German scored a great victory and invaded Bulgaria.In the same time the Croats waged a war against the Bulgarians. Both peoples had coexisted peacefully to that moment which suggests that the Croats were paid by Louis to attack Bulgaria and distract Boris' attention from his alliance with Great Moravia.Kanasubigi Boris could not achieve any success and in the both sides changed gifts and settled peace. As a result of the military actions in 855 the peace between Bulgaria and Eastern Francia was restored and Rastislav was forced to fight against Louis alone. A conflict between the Byzantines and Bulgarians started in 855-856, when Boris was distracted by his conflict with Louis. Philippopolis (Plovdiv), the region of Zagora and the ports around the Gulf of Burgas on the Black Sea were recaptured by the Byzantine army led by Michael III and the caesar Bardas.
After the death of Vlastimir of Serbia c.850 the state was divided between his sons. Boris desired to take the opportunity and restore his positions after the unsuccessful actions against the Croats and invaded Serbia. The main aim was to replace the Byzantine influence over the small Slavic state with Bulgarian one but he was defeated once more: the Serbs captured his son Vladimir-Rasate and twelve great boyars.Boris who was concerned for his son signed peace and gifted the Serbs.

In spite of various reverses, Boris succeeded in maintaining the territorial integrity of his realm.

For a variety of reasons, Boris became interested in converting to Christianity and undertook to do that at the hands of western clergymen to be supplied by Louis the German in 863. However, late in the same year, the Byzantine Empire invaded Bulgaria during a period of famine and natural disasters. Taken by surprise, Boris was forced to sue for peace and agreed to convert to Christianity according to the eastern rites in exchange for peace and territorial concessions in Thrace (he regained the region of Zagora recently recovered by the Byzantines). At the beginning of 864 Boris was secretly baptized at Pliska by an embassy of Byzantine clergymen, together with his family and select members of the Bulgarian nobility.With Emperor Michael III as his godfather, Boris also adopted the Christian name Michael.However, a document was discovered in Albania by the Austrian archaeologist Camillo Praschniker during WWI, in Byllis, (or Ballsh in modern Albania) that says: (evaftiste o arhon Bulgarias Boris o metonomastheis Mihail sin to ek Theu dhedhomeno av to ethnei tous s t o d) "...was baptized the archon of Bulgaria, Boris, called Mihal together with his people given to him by God, Year 6374" (=866 AD). Boris' conversion inspired a reaction by his pagan subjects, including many important notables. There are a few versions as to why Boris converted to Christianity. Some historians attribute it to the intervention of his sister who had already converted while being at Constantinople. Another story mention a Greek slave in the ruler's court. A more mythological version is the one in which Boris is astonished and frightened by an icon of Judgement day and thus decides to adopt Christianity.

Conversion to Christianity met great opposition in Bulgaria. In the summer of 865 a group of aristocrats (boyars) started an open revolt.Boris ruthlessly suppressed it and executed 52 boyars together with their entire families. Thus the Christianization continued.

At the same time Boris sought further instruction on how to lead a Christian lifestyle and society and how to set up an autocephalous church from the Byzantine Patriarch Photios. Photios' answer proved less than satisfactory, and Boris sought to gain a more favorable settlement from the Papacy.Boris dispatched emissaires with a long list of questions to Pope Nicholas I at Rome in August 866, and obtained 106 detailed answers, detailing the essence of religion, law, politics, customs and personal faith. The pope temporarily glossed over the controversial question of the autocephalous status desired by Boris for his church and sent a large group of missionaries to continue the conversion of Bulgaria in accordance with the western rite. Bulgaria's shift towards the Papacy infuriated Patriarch Photios who wrote an encyclical to the eastern clergy in 867, in which he denounced the practices associated with the western rite and Rome's ecclesiastical intervention in Bulgaria. This occasioned the Photian Schism, which was a major step in the rift between the eastern and western churches.

In Bulgaria the activities of the papal legate Bishop Formosus (later Pope Formosus) met with success, until the pope rejected Boris' request to nominate Formosus archbishop of Bulgaria. The new Pope Adrian II refused Boris' request for a similar nomination of either Formosus or Deacon Marinus (later Pope Marinus I), after which Bulgaria began to shift towards Constantinople once again. At the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 870 the position of the Bulgarian church was reopened by Bulgarian envoys, and the eastern patriarchs adjudicated in favor of Constantinople. This determined the future of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which was granted the status of an autocephalous archbishopric by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Later in the 870s the Patriarch of Constantinople surrendered Bulgaria to the Papacy, but this concession was purely nominal, as it did not affect the actual position of Bulgaria's autocephalous church.

In 886 Boris' governor of Belgrade welcomed the disciples of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, who were exiled from Great Moravia into Bulgaria and sent them on to Boris in Pliska. Two of these disciples, Clement of Ohrid and Naum of Preslav who were of noble Bulgarian origin, set up educational centers in Pliska and in Ohrid to further the development of Slavonic letters and liturgy. The alphabet that was originally developed by Cyril and Methodius is known as the Glagolitic alphabet. In Bulgaria Clement of Ohrid and Naum of Preslav however created (or rather compiled) a new alphabet which was called Cyrillic and was declared the official alphabet. The Slavic language also was declared as official in 893. In the following centuries this alphabet was adopted by other Slavic peoples. The introduction of Slavic liturgy paralleled Boris' continued development of churches and monasteries throughout his realm.

In 889 Boris abdicated the throne and became a monk. His son and successor Vladimir attempted a pagan reaction, which brought Boris out of retirement in 893. Vladimir was defeated and blinded, and Boris placed his third son, Simeon I of Bulgaria on the throne, threatening him with the same fate if he too apostatized. Boris returned to his monastery, emerging once again in c. 895 to help Simeon fight the Magyars, who had invaded Bulgaria in alliance with the Byzantines. After the passing of this crisis, Boris resumed monastic life and died in 907. The location of his retreat, where perhaps he was enterred, is not certain; it may be near Preslav but also in Pliska or in a monastery near Varna or Ravda.

St. Boris Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named for Boris I of Bulgaria.

The 0.55 Lev stamp on the right is 2007 Christmas issue of Bulgaria.

#565 Georgia...Thanks Khatuna!

The 100d stamp on this cover was issued in 2005 commemorating 100th anniversary of Tbilisi Funikular,which was opened near 1905. The 500m long funikular wass designed by Blushe (France) & Shimkevich with a 65% gradient.However it's closed after crash 21 June 2000.

The 150c stamp next was issued in 1994 honoring Niko Nikoladze (1843–1928),who was a notable Georgian publicist, pro-Western enlightener, and public figure primarily known for his contributions to the development of Georgian liberal journalism and his involvement in various economic and social projects of that time.

The two 15c stamps are from 1995 Prehistoric Animals issue and the 0.6 Gel and 0.4 Gel stamps are from 2010 Red Book of Georgia issue illustrating Caucasian Grouse and Grey Partridge.

#564 Tunisia

The 0.60 TND stamp on the right is from 2010 Organic Farming in Tunisia issue illustrating Tomatoes.

#563 Sri Lanka...Thanks Ravindra!

These 4 stamps were issued in September,2010 showing bio-diversity in Horton Plain National Park of Sri Lanka.

Horton Plains National Park is in the highlands of the Sri Lanks belonging to central province. This is the highest plateau in the country. This was declared as a National Park in 1988. The park area is 3160 hectare.

The second & third highest mountains of the country namely Kirigalpotta & Thotupola respectively are found within the borders of the park. Park receives rainfall from both northeast & southwest monsoons as well as inter-monsoonal rains. Frequently occurring mist and clouds are one main source of precipitation. With annual precipitation of about 5000mm Horton Plains is the most important catchments area of the country. Three major rivers of the country start from this area namely Kelani, Walawe & the Mahaweli the longest river of the country. There is a slight dry period between January to March. Due to altitude the area is comparatively cold. Mean annual temperature is around 15C and during colder months it will go down further where it is cold enough to create ground frost.

Park consists of montane cloud forests embedded in wet montane grasslands. Horton Plains has rich biodiversity. Most of the fauna and flora found in the park are endemic and furthermore some of them are confined to highlands of the island.

Forests are dominated by Calophyllum sp. & Syzygium sp. Giant tree fern Cyathea sp. and colourful Rhododrendron are among the main attractions. Park is also famous for beautiful flowers of endemic Nellu (Strobilanthes sp.), Bovitiya (Osbeckia sp.), Binara (Exacum trinervium) and many other orchid species. Endemic dwarf Bamboo (Arundinaria densifolia) dominates the edges of the river while Chrysopogon zeylanicum and Garnotia mutica dominate the grasslands.

Though this was one of the best elephant habitats in the country they are locally extinct due to poaching & sports hunting occurred during the British colonial era. Leopard and Sambhur & wild boar are the most common large mammals in Horton Plains. Endemic Bear Monkey, Rusty- Spotted and Fishing cats, Otter, Black napped hare and Giant Squirrel are among other mammals. Many species of endemic & threatened rats & shrews are also found in the park. Diversity & endemicity of reptiles (Lizards) and amphibians are remarkably high.

Though this is cold highland plateau the bird diversity is very high. More than 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds are found here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

#562 Germany...Thanks Rainer!

The 55c stamp was issued in 2007 commemorating 100th birthday of Paul Klinger,who was a German actor and the German voice of David Niven and Cary Grant.