Saturday, May 19, 2012

Odd stamps : 08 Stamps with special cuts - 06 b

Iran might not be the most popular country to collect stamps from, but I'm going to change that.
From the old Persia to modern Iran, a very interesting historic journey through stamp collecting can be made.
I 'll come back on the old persian stamps later on, but for my topic on 'odd stamps' we go to modern Iran.

Recently two commemorative sheets of Iran came under my attention.
Having my blog in mind, I bought them and today is the moment to share them with you all.
Of course the stamps are a bit special, and they are a fine acquisition to my collection.

First sheet was issued in October 2010 and is dedicated to the World Post Day.
In the middle of the sheet, a hexagonal stamp can be foundwith the logo of the UPU (Universal Postal Union).
Iran (at that time still Persia) joined UPU on September 1, 1877.
On each of the 7 stamps in the sheet, a postally related item is depicted.
Not only (snail) mail is present, also modern ways of telecommunication, such as e-mail, online shopping, ...
7 nicely designed hexagonal stamps united in one sheet.

World Post Day sheet 2010 - detail - UPU

World Post Day sheet 2010

The second sheet looks very similar, and was issued around March 2011.

On the sheet we see at the top : "The Global Celebration of Nowruz"

"Nowruz or Noruz" means "new day". It's a traditional feast that is celebrated on March 21 in Iran, Turkey, Azerbeidjan and Afghanistan. March 21 when the sun reaches it's highest point on the equator, is the start of spring. In Iran it can be seen as the beginning of the new year. People make nice food, give gifts... houses are decorated and friends and family are invited.

No(w)ruz however is not a typical islamic holiday, it's a public holiday in Uzbekistan, Tadzjikistan, Kirgizia, Kazachstan and even Pakistan and India.
Originally being a Zoroastrian festival, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufis, Ismailis, Alawites, Alevis, Babis and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith

During these days, the number 7 is a most significant number.
7 is also a holy number for catholics, jews and other religions, but when No(w)ruz is celebrated it appears in many aspects of the festivities.

In the days before 'new year' the tradition demands to jump over 7 fires.
It's a symbol of courage, and renewing.
I remember a boy scout, we had to jump over a fire to start a new year as well.
To leave the old group/year behind and to jump over a barricade into the unkown 'new'.
The firejumping is also know in western culture, and is celebrated around june 24 (midsummer), and the birthdate of John the Baptist.

Back now to the '7' stamps.

When people are celebrating the persian new year, houses are decorated with 7 types of beans or grains to symbolise new life.In most houses you can find the seven S's. (Haft Sin/Haft Seen)
These are 7 object whose name starts with an S in Farsi (Irani language).

    sebzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbol of rebirth
    semenu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbol of abundance
    sinjed – the sweet fruits of the Oleaster Olive tree – symbol of love

    sir – garlic – symbol of healing

    sib – apples – symbol of beauty and health

    sumak – sumakbessen – symbol of the (colour of the) sunrise

    sirke – vinegar – symbol of age and patience

Further on, coins are put on the table, as a symbol of prosperity and wealth;

a basket with painted eggs, as a symbol of fertility

an orange (the earth) in a bowl of water (the heavens)

a goldfish, symbol of life

sometimes a mirror, reflecting the holy light and multiplying it
burning candles, one per child for their happiness.

And finally, in the middle of the sheet, a hyacinth and the Holy Qu'ran

To be continued ...

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