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Dragon gets global stamp of approval

[ 2012-01-18 17:18]     字号 [] [] []  
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There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people's eyes.

The same can be said about the dragon, a mythical creature in Chinese and Western culture.

It can be demonstrated no better than in the variety of dragon stamps issued by nearly 20 countries and regions to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

For example, Japan features four cute dragon toys on its stamps. It also features the Chinese character "dragon" in 10 different calligraphic styles by 10 famous calligraphers.

South Korea's dragon stamps depict a cartoon dragon embedded in snowflakes.

The United States, the first country to issue a dragon stamp in 2012, features a vibrant dragonhead in a traditional dragon dance. Combined with the style of Chinese paper-cutting, it is a celebration of Chinese folk culture.

The stamp issued by France features the traditional royal golden dragon and Chinese characters.

All of these were in stark contrast with the image presented by China Post. It looks ferocious with its fierce stare and wide-open mouth, which prompted a heated online debate.

"It is roaring and intimidating," a blog post read.

But experts said it was actually a design that was close to China's first stamp, issued in 1878, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Chen Shaohua, the designer of the new stamp, defended his work, saying the dragon should not be too gentle, otherwise it does not match the dragon in traditional culture that was used to exorcise evil spirits, avoid disasters and bless people.

"The dragon is the deity of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and you can't modernize it like a cartoon," Chen said.

All the different interpretations are a reflection of different cultures in a globalized world, according to stamp experts.

"With stamps, the first thing I can see is the culture, the design," Canadian philatelist Daniel Wong said. "When you see the stamp you see the history too. There's a lot of information in a stamp."

Countries such as Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Slovenia and the United Kingdom also issued or plan to issue their own dragon stamps.


1. How many countries are issuing dragon stamps?

2. What is the significance?

3. What countries outside China are planning dragon stamps?


1. About 20.

2. To celebrate the Chinese New Year.

3.US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Dragon gets global stamp of approval

About the broadcaster:

Dragon gets global stamp of approval

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the US, including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.