Reptile Awareness Day

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Apparently, today is Reptile Awareness Day, dedicated to raising awareness of reptiles and their habitats and conservation efforts. To celebrate, I have a reptile postcard from Postcrossing forum member xJuul in the Netherlands:

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The card shows many kinds of reptiles: frogs, snakes, toads, and salamanders. In English the names are: 1) sand lizard; 2) viviparous lizard; 3) green frog; 4) marsh frog; 5) natterjack toad; 6) tree frog; 7) pool frog: 8) brown frog; 9) moor frog; 10) common toad; 11) yellow-bellied toad; 12) fire salamander; 13) Alpine salamander; 14) fin-footed salamander; 15) newt; 16) great crested newt; 17) midwife toad; 18) slow-worm; 19) ring snake; 20) viper.

My favorite kind of reptile isn’t here though: turtles or tortoises.

NETHERLANDS-red-fox

And on the stamp, a fox, which is not a reptile.

As a bonus, here are two just-arrived postcards from Komodo Island National Park in Indonesia, home of the world’s largest lizards, the Komodo dragon:

UNESCO-komodo-2 UNESCO-komodo-3

Both of these cards came from Jennifer in Indonesia. Thanks, Jennifer!

Fiji Day

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Today is Fiji Day, commemorating the country’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1970. This card was sent to me last winter by my friend Sam when he was vacationing in New Zealand and Fiji.

Fiji

Castaway Island is a private resort island in the Mamanuca Island group. It is known by Fijians as Qalito.

This is my first card from Fiji, and probably my last. There are only 858,000 people who live there, and only 9 Postcrossing members at the moment. Here is the stamp Sam used, showing a Petroica multicolor, the Pacific Robin.

FIJI-bird

China Week 4: Qing, Ming, and Peking

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Welcome back to the fourth and final installment of China Week, where I show a plethora of Chinese UNESCO sites. See parts one, two, and three if you missed them.

Today I have three completely new, never-before-featured-on-this-blog UNESCO sites: the Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty, the home of the Peking Ape Man, and the Ming Tombs. All of them come from Wenyi on the Postcrossing forum.

UNESCO-beijing-summer-palac

Here you can see the “Garden of Harmonious Pleasures” at the Summer Palace in Beijing, one of the homes of the Qing royal family. The palace started as the “Garden of Clear Ripples” under the Qianlong Emperor in 1750. It was greatly expanded in 1888 by the dowager empress Cixi. The Palace was listed in 1998 because of its beautiful gardens and architecture.

UNESCO-peking-man

Next is Zhoukoudian, the home of the Peking Man, an early specimen of Homo erectus, an evolutionary ancestor of humans. Zhoukoudian is a system of caves in Beijing. The site was discovered in 1921 and contains tools that are at least 500,000 years old. Some of the caves also have artifacts from humans, i.e., Homo sapiens, dating back 10 to 20 thousand years. The caves were listed on the UNESCO list in 1987.

UNESCO-ming-tombs

Finally, these elephant statues are from the Sacred Way at the Ming tombs in Beijing. Here there are thirteen tombs of Ming Emperors, dating from 1424 to 1644. The first Emperor buried here was Yongle, who had moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. The site was chosen based on geomancy principles; it is near mountains and a river, which are good signs in geomancy. The Ming Tombs were listed as the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in 2000.

Here are the stamps:

CHINA-pavilion1997 CHINA-roses

That concludes China Week. I hope you’ve enjoyed the exploration of some of China’s many UNESCO sites!

China Week 3: Historic Buildings

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Welcome back for part three of the China Week series. Don’t miss part one or part two. Today I have for your enjoyment three more Chinese UNESCO sites: the Fujian Earth building, the Imperial Palace in Beijing, and the Mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor.

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The Fujian Earth Buildings are a type of rural dwelling that were built starting in the 12th century. They are sort of like Western castles; they were built to be fortified places to live. I have already featured a card that showed the outside of these buildings, and now you get to see the inside. This card shows the Chenqi building, one of the 46 Fujian Tulou buildings. This card came from a Postcrossing forum swap with Bourdon.

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Next is a card also from the Postcrossing forum, this time sent by Linus. It shows the Imperial Palace in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden Palace. The Palace was built in the 15th century CE. Construction was started by the Yongle Emperor, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It was preserved as a UNESCO site in 1987.

UNESCO-Qin-Emperor-mausoleu

Finally, there is this card, also sent by Linus. It shows a very small part of the Terracotta army of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. The Terracotta Army protected the Emperor in his afterlife. There are approximately 8,000 foot soldier figures, as well as chariots, horses, and cavalry in pits around the tomb. The Mausoleum was built over 38 years from 246 to 208 BCE. Most of the tomb remains unexcavated. The tomb was put on the UNESCO list in 1987.

Here are the stamps:

CHINA-hot-spring

Join us later for the fourth and final installment of China Week.

 

 

China Week 2: Natural UNESCO

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Continuing the week of Chinese UNESCO, started with this post on the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. Today, we take a look at two of China’s UNESCO sites that incorporate nature:

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I say “sites that incorporate nature” because despite the sites being quite natural looking, the first site, West Lake, was listed under cultural criteria. The West Lake was highly influential to Chinese painters, poets, and garden designers. There are many temples, gardens, and pagodas around the lake. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2011.

This card was sent to me by a Postcrossing forum member.

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And the second is the mixed cultural-natural site of Mount Huangshan. Huangshan is a mountain range in southern China. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1990 because its unique scenery is a common subject of traditional Chinese painting and literature, as well as modern photography.

This card was sent to me as an official Postcrossing card.

Come back later this week for part 3 of the Chinese Week!

China Week: The Great Wall

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Today I’m kicking off a week of Chinese UNESCO posts, coinciding with today, which is the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. To begin, I present these two views of the Great Wall of China:

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This first one is from Linus on the Postcrossing forum. It shows the Great Wall at Simatai.

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The second view is from bjsusu, also on the Postcrossing forum. It shows the section of the Great Wall near Jinshanling in the Hebei province.

The Great Wall is not just one uniform wall. It was built over many centuries to repel invaders. The wall is built of many materials including stone, brick, and tamped earth. Most of the wall still standing was built by the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century CE. The Ming portions of the wall are about 8,850 km (5,500 miles) long. The wall is not always continuous: there are parts where the wall was replaced by trenches or natural defenses like impassable mountains or rivers. The wall also has many branches.

Contrary to a popular myth, the wall is not the only human building that is visible from space. It is only marginally visible to astronauts in the international space station, most have reported needing binoculars to see it.

Bjsusu used some new stamps on the card:

CHINA-jumping

Come back later in the week for more Chinese UNESCO adventures!

UNESCO in Croatia: Plitvice Lakes and Trogir

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Today I have two new UNESCO sites to share, both from Postcrossing forum user ddonkey in Croatia:

UNESCO-plitvice

First is this view of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest national park in southeast Europe and the largest in Croatia. The park was founded in 1949 and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1979. There are 16 interconnected lakes, separated by travertine and linked by waterfalls. The lakes are very colorful due to mineral deposits in the water.

UNESCO-trogir

Second is this card showing the town of Trogir, on the Adriatic coast. The historic center of Trogir was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997. The town was founded by Greek colonists in the 3rd century BCE and was ruled by Venetians from 1420 CE to 1797. The city was listed for its medieval architecture and well-preserved Gothic and Romanesque buildings.

Here are the stamps:

CROATIA-sunja

CROATIA-flowers

The flower stamps are from 2004; the red stamps on top are from 2008 and show some motifs of folk art from the area of Sunja. The other stamp is from a 2003 series of Croatian fauna and shows a dormouse, a kind of rodent.

Diverse Royalty

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Most of the royalty cards I’ve featured before have been British or Dutch, so today I’ve got some more diverse royals:

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First is this card from Paola in Ireland showing Empress Maria Theresia of Austria, mother of Marie Antoinette of France. She was born in 1717, died in 1780, and ruled for 40 years. Two of her sons were Holy Roman Emperors: Joseph II and Leopold II.

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And another Austrian royal from Paola: Franz Joseph I. He was emperor from 1848 to 1916. He was the great-great-grandson of Maria Theresa and the uncle of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked World War I.

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Next is the last Romanov tsar, Nicholas II (center), and his family. This photo was taken in 1913. From left to right are (I think) his oldest daughter, Olga; his middle daughter, Maria; his wife, Alexandra; his youngest daughter, the famous Anastasia; his youngest child and heir, Tsarevich Alexei; and his second oldest daughter, Tatiana. The whole family was executed in 1918 as part of the Russian Revolution.

This card was sent to me by uliaya in Russia.

royals-belgium

And finally, “two kings for the price of one,” King Albert II of Belgium (right) with his son, the current King Philippe. King Albert abdicated in 2013 and his son became king. This photo was taken in 2008. The card was sent to me by Katrien in Belgium.

Here are the stamps:

RUSSIA-strawberry

This stamp from Russia is from 2003. It shows some strawberries and is a scented stamp. Even though it is 10 years old it still smells like strawberries!

BELGIUM-butterfly

And the other new stamp is a butterfly from Belgium.

 

An Artistic Interlude

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Today I have a collection of art cards to share with you.

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First is this Postcrossing card from Germany. It shows some artwork from Sandro Botticelli, the early Renaissance painter.

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Second is another Postcrossing card from Germany, showing a painting by the 19th century French artist, Pierre Renoir. Renoir is one of my favorite artists. The back of the card says that the title of the work is “Schlafende” or “Sleeping” and that it was painted in 1880.

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Next is a card sent from a Dutch Postcrosser. The card shows a painting called “Conversations” by Nguyen Thanh Binh. This card was printed by IKEA, which has surprisingly nice postcards that don’t even require assembly.

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And finally, Grant Wood’s classic painting “American Gothic,” painted in 1930. This card was sent by Jennifer in Nebraska, who had visited the American Gothic House in Iowa.

Just one new stamp, showing Schloss Stolzenfels am Rhein in Germany:

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Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Today I have three cards from Saint Petersburg, Russia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UNESCO-st petersburg column

The first card is an official Postcrossing card and shows the Alexander column in the Palace Square, in front of the famed Winter Palace. The column was completed in 1834 to commemorate the Russian victory against Napoleon. It was named after the Tsar Alexander I.

UNESCO-st petersburg palace

The second card, also from Postcrossing, shows a lion sculpture on the Palace Embankment, with a view of the Winter Palace in the background. The Winter Palace was the official home of the Russian tsars between 1732 and 1917. Peter the Great, the founder of Saint Petersburg, built the first Winter Palace on the site in the early 1700s. The current Winter Palace is an expansion of the Apraskin Palace that was undertaken by Tsaritsa Anna starting in 1732.

UNESCO-st petersburg

And finally, this card shows the Church on Spilt Blood, built in 1883 on the site of Emperor Alexander II’s assassination. Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Alexander II was known as a great reformer of Russian government, but his assassination greatly set back the reforms and his successors, his son Alexander III and grandson Nicholas II, were much more repressive, leading to the revolution in 1917. Who knows what might have happened if Alexander II had not been assassinated.

There were some new and interesting stamps on the cards, as you can see:

RUSSIA-green-woman

On the left is a stamp from 2013 showing the Admiralty Building and St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The stamp on the right is from 2010 and shows the Kattashi, a Russian headdress.

RUSSIA-1945-plane

In the second set of stamps, on the top is a stamp from 2011 showing a Russian military aircraft. On the bottom is a stamp from 2009 showing Adolph Theodor Kupffer, a chemist and physicist who founded the Depot of Standard Weights and Measures in Russia.

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