November 25, 2014

1343 BOTSWANA - Moths

This postcard depicts a shaped miniature sheet comprising a series of stamps issued on July 19, 2000, Moths of Botswana:

Mopane moth / Gonimbrasia belina (35t) - is a moth of the Saturniidae family, which is found in much of Southern Africa. Its large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm (found on the mopane tree, Colophospermum mopane), is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans. Its wingspan is about 120mm. It is fawn through shades of green and brown to red, with two black and white bands isolating eye spots. Orange eyespot on each hind wing. Males have feathery antennae.

Wild silk moth / Gonometa rufobrunnae Aurivillius (70t)- is a moth of the Lasiocampidae family. Most of the Lasiocampidae are highly sexually dimorphic. It feeds on the mopane tree in southern Africa, and it is notable for producing a fine quality wild silk in its cocoon.

Speckled emperor moth / Gynanisa maja (P15) - is a moth of the Saturniidae family, which is found from South Africa to eastern Africa (up to Angola and Zambia), but it is absent from the south- western arid and winter rainfall regions. Its wingspan is 110-130mm. It is characterized by dense greyish-black speckling on forewings and large, ringed eyespots on rusty field on hindwings; males with very large, feathery antennae.

Crimson-speckled flunkey (Tiger moth) / Utetheisa pulchella (P1) - is a moth of the Arctiidae family, which is found in the tropics and subtropics of Africa and Asia, in a few places in coastal areas of the Mediterranean, in the Canaries and Madeira, and also in Australia. It migrates to the north and was occasionally found north of the Alps in Germany, northern France and the British Isles. Its wingspan is 29-42 mm, and the larvae feed on Forget-me-not, Echium, Borago and Anchusa species. It inhabits mainly coastal dunes, rocky areas, dry slopes and other warm, gappy vegetated habitats.

African moon moth / Argema mimosae (P2) - is a giant silk moth of the Saturniidae family, which is found widely in Eastern Africa and more locally in Southern Africa, including near the east coast of South Africa. Its wingspan is 100-120mm. Its forward wings have a distinctive grey-coloured 'furry' leading edge, giving a very rough surface, presumably for aerodynamic reasons. Apart from the eye-like markings on its wings, the colouring and shape of the wings give the appearance of a piece of foliage, especially the 'tail-like' structures which resemble a dried out leaf stem.

November 24, 2014

1342 JAPAN (Kyūshū) - Mount Aso

Mount Aso, located in Aso Kujū National Park, is the largest active volcano in Japan, and is among the largest in the world, with one of the largest calderas (25km north-south and 18km east-west), which contains the city of of Aso as well as Aso Takamori-cho and South Aso-mura. The central cone group consists of five peaks: Mt. Neko, Mt. Taka (the highest, with 1592m), Mt. Naka (also called Nakadake or Naka-Dake), Mt. Eboshi, and Mt. Kishima. Only the northernmost crater has been active for the last 70 years, last time in 2011. Viewpoints from the somma overlooking the caldera are perched upon lava formed before the volcanic activity which created the present caldera. Ejecta from the huge caldera eruption 90,800 years ago covers more than 600 km³ and roughly equals the volume of Mt. Fuji; it is presumed that the pyroclastic flow plateau covered half of the island of Kyūshū.

November 23, 2014

1341 UNITED STATES (Alaska) - The celebration of 25 years of Alaska's statehood

When a massive, snow-covered terrain, known as Alaska, was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million dollars in 1867, no one imagined the great contributions this icy land would make to America. Indeed, many Americans thought the land to be barren and desolate... completely worthless. However, Alaska has since proven to be bountiful in breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and rich natural resources. In fact, located at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, is what is believed to be North America's largest oil reserve. In addition, Alaska's fishing waters - rich in salmon, halibut and king crab - provide some of the most plentiful harvests anywhere in America. Indeed, this frigid land proved to be such a great asset to America, that on January 3, 1959, Alaska entered the Union as the 49th state - the first new state in forty-seven years. Interestingly, Alaska is known as America's Last Frontier, because much of the land has yet to be explored or settled. In celebration  of the 25th anniversary of Alaska's statehood, the United States Postal Service issued the postage stamp that is featured on this Proofcard. In addition to honoring Alaska's statehood, the colorful postage stamp focuses on the 200th anniversary of the first permanent settlement in the state and on the 100th anniversary of the state's first civil government.

1340 AUSTRALIA (Tasmania) - West Coast Wilderness Railway

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a reconstruction of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company railway between Queenstown and Regatta Point, Strahan, in Tasmania, now operating as a tourist experience with a focus on sharing the history of the Tasmania's West Coast. Following track rehabilitation work, the railway was re-opened between Queenstown and Dubbil Barril on 6 January 2014, while rehabilitation of the section through to Strahan continues. This railway is significant because of its Abt system to conquer the mountainous terrain through rainforest, with original locomotives still operating on the railway today.

November 22, 2014

1339 THAILAND (Loei) - Wat Si Khun Mueang temple in Chiang Khan

Chiang Khan, the capital of the district with the same name in Loei Province (northeastern Thailand), is a small city with only 10,000 inhabitants, located at 580km north of Bangkok. It’s hard to get many hard facts about Chiang Khan, other than it has a handful of fine, old Buddhist temples. Chiang Khan has boomed in the past four years, and even more so in the last two. It has well and truly been ‘discovered’ by urban Thais, many of them drawn to a nostalgic past that they never had: Buddhist monks at dawn receiving alms and sticky rice, rambling family homes made of ancient teak on streets of almost no vehicles, and local specialities like hand-sewn quilts and maphrao kaew (sugar-coated dried coconut) snacks. Wat Si Khun Mueang is the most sacred Buddhist temple among the people of Chiang Kahn district. Built in 1834, on Rama III era, is mostly Lao-style (in particular the sweeping roof), but it also freely mixes central (the lotus pillars) and northern (the guardian lions) Thai stylings. It is fronted by a superb mural of the Jataka tales, and contains the beautiful and distinct Lan Chang-style image of Phra Nagprok.

November 18, 2014

1337, 1338 ROMANIA (Bucharest) - Stavropoleos Church

Stavropoleos Monastery, also known as Stavropoleos Church during the last century, when the monastery was dissolved, is an Eastern Orthodox monastery for nuns in central Bucharest. The name is a Romanian rendition of a Greek Stauropolis (The city of the Cross), and the patrons are St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel. It was built in 1724 in Brâncovenesc style, during the reign of Nicolae Mavrocordat (Prince of Wallachia between 1719 and 1730), by archimandrite Ioanichie Stratonikeas, came in from Epirus. Within the precinct of his inn, Ioanichie built the church, and a monastery which was economically sustained with the incomes from the inn (a relatively common situation in those times). The inn and the monastery's annexes were demolished at the end of 19th century. Over time the church suffered from earthquakes, which caused the dome to fall. The dome's paintings were restored at the beginning of the 20th century.

All that remained from the original monastery is the church, alongside a building from the beginning of the 20th century (constructed following the plans of architect Ion Mincu) which shelters a library, a conference room and a collection of old icons and ecclesiastical objects, and parts of wall paintings recovered from churches demolished during the communist regime. The library has over 10,000 Romanian, Greek, and Church Slavonic books of theology, byzantine music, arts and history, more than 80 manuscripts and 400 printed works. The Byzantine music books collection is the largest in Romania, and consists mostly of the donations of two Romanian byzantologists, Sebastian Barbu-Bucur, and Titus Moisescu. The community living here, besides routine worship, is engaged in renovating old books, icons and sacerdotal clothes. The music sung during the offices is neo-Byzantine, based on the works of 19th century Romanian psalmodists, Greek chants translated into Romanian, or modern compositions.

November 15, 2014

1336 TURKEY - A belly dancer

Belly dance is a translation of the French term "danse du ventre", applied to the dance in the Victorian era, and originally referred to the Ouled Nail dancers of Algeria, whose dance used more abdominal movements than the dances described today as "belly dance". Actually is a misnomer, because every part of the body is involved in the dance; the most featured body part is usually the hips. Belly dance takes many different forms depending on the country and region, both in costume and dance style, and new styles have evolved in the West as its popularity has spread globally. It is believed to have had a long history in the Middle East, but reliable evidence about its origins is scarce. Several Greek and Roman sources describe dancers from Asia Minor and Spain using undulating movements, playing castanets, and sinking to the floor with 'quivering thighs'. Later, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, European travellers in the Middle East wrote of the dancers they saw there, particularly in Egypt. In the Ottoman Empire belly dancers used to perform for the harem in the Topkapı Palace.

1334, 1335 GERMANY (Berlin) - The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was undoubtedly the most powerful symbol of the Iron Curtain, that separated the Western Bloc (the United States and its NATO allies) and the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact) during the Cold War. It was constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, and completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in 1989. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany, but in practice it served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-WWII period. Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, but between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with an estimated death toll of from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin.

In the first postcard is an East German soldier, named Conrad Schumann, leaping over barbed wire into West Berlin. Born in Saxony in 1942, Schumann enlisted in the East German police following his 18th birthday. After a training in Dresden, he was posted to a non-commissioned officers' college in Potsdam, after which he volunteered for service in Berlin. On 15 August 1961, he was sent to the corner of Ruppiner Strasse and Bernauer Strasse to guard the Berlin Wall on its third day of construction. From the other side, West Germans shouted to him, "Komm' rüber!" (Come over!), and a police car pulled up to wait for him. Schumann jumped over the barbed wire fence and was promptly driven away by the West Berlin police. The photo made by Peter Leibing has since become an iconic image of the Cold War era, and was inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World programme. Schumann settled in Bavaria, where it was married, but his life has never been normal. On 20 June 1998, suffering from depression, he committed suicide by hanging himself.

November 14, 2014

1333 CANADA (Ontario) / UNITED STATES (New York) - Niagara Falls

Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, on the border between Canada and the United States, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York, Niagara Falls is in fact an assembly of three waterfalls: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls (furthest on the postcard) lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls (closest on the postcard) entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island. The boundary line was drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819, but it has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction. The combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 50m.

November 13, 2014

1125, 1272, 1332 UNITED STATES (Utah) - The map and the flag of State of Utah

Posted on 04.07.2014, 08.10.2014, and 13.11.2014
Bordered by Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada (and touching a corner of New Mexico), Utah, one of the Four Corners states, is well known as the most religiously homogeneous state in the Union (its nickname is Beehive State), approximately 62% of Utahns being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS (Mormons), which greatly influences the state's culture and daily life. The world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is located in the state capital, Salt Lake City, founded in 1847 in proximity to the Great Salt Lake. It is a geographically diverse state, located at the convergence of three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau. Utah is known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts with sand dunes to thriving pine forests in mountain valleys.


Thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, the Anasazi/Ancestral Pueblo and the Fremont tribes lived in what is now Utah. Around the 18th century, the Navajo settled in the region, and then other Uto-Aztecan tribes, including the Goshute, the Paiute, the Shoshone, and the Ute people (who gave the name of the state). Spaniards explored the region in the 16th century, but weren't interested in colonizing. In 1821 it became part of Mexico (Alta California), and in 1824 Jim Bridger became the first white person to sight the Great Salt Lake. In 1847 Brigham Young and the first band of Mormon pioneers came to the Salt Lake Valley, and over the next 22 years, more than 70,000 pioneers crossed the plains and settled in Utah.

The Mormons wanted to establish a State of Deseret, but many of the members of the U.S. government opposed their polygamous practices. Between May 1857 and July 1858 held an armed confrontation between Mormon settlers and the armed forces of the US government (the Utah War), and beginning in 1865 Utah's Black Hawk War developed into the deadliest conflict in the territory's history. In the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church banned polygamy, so when Utah applied for statehood again, it was accepted, it becoming the 45th state admitted to the Union on January 4, 1896.