March 28, 2013

0578 CHINA (Tibet) - An old Tibetan man with a Mani wheel

Tibet lies on the plateau located north-east of the Himalayas (the highest on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900m) and emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire, divided afterwards into a variety of territories. In the next millennium, its western and central regions were often unified by local rulers, under Mongol or Chinese overlordship, while the eastern regions maintained more decentralized structures, often fallen more directly under Chinese rule. Since the mid 19th century, the Qing Dynasty authority over Tibet became more formale, and in 1913, after its collapse, the region declared its independence. Shortly after the comunists took control over the most part of mainland China and established the PRC, Tibet was occupied by the chinese army and in 1959 the Tibetan government was abolished. Even though most countries have recognized (formal or tacit) the annexation, there isn't the slightest doubt that it was done and is maintained against the wishes of Tibetans.

The vast majority of the Tibet's inhabitants consists of Tibetans, who speak the Tibetic languages and practice Tibetan Buddhism. Geographical and historical conditions totally outstanding led to the formation of a unique culture. Buddhism has exerted a particularly strong influence on Tibetan culture since its introduction in the 7th century. Art, literature, and music all contain elements of the prevailing Buddhist beliefs, and Buddhism itself has adopted a unique form in Tibet, influenced by the Bön tradition and other local beliefs. Tibetan Buddhism derives from the confluence of Buddhism and yoga, and in fact is a form of Mahayana Buddhism based on Indian Buddhism and emphasizing realization through direct practice. It offers a variety of ways to pray, among them being the chant.

A utensil used in prayers is khor, a cylindrical "wheel" on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. According to the tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. The most common form of these objects are hand prayer wheels, which consist in a metal cylinder and a handle which also serves as axis around which the cylinder can revolve, being set in motion by a small weight which is attached to it by a string or chain. The cylinder contains a paper roll on which Buddhist texts are printed. The old man shown in the postcard spins even such a wheel, named Mani wheel.

About the stamps
Because the postcard was sent from Hong Honk, the stamps were issued by Hongkong Post. The first stamp, depictind Scarlet minivet (50c), belongs to a series of birds about which I wrote here.

The second stamp is part of a set of four, issued on July 27, 2012 for celebration of the XXX Olympiad Games London 2012. Adopting three-dimensional shapes to highlight the exciting elements of the Games, the four stamps showcase a number of sports in which the Hong Kong Olympic team has participated:

• Windsurfing and rowing ($1.40) - it's on this postcard
• Badminton and archery ($2.40)
• Table tennis and cycling ($3.00)
• Swimming and athletics ($5.00)

Embedded in the design of each stamp is a digit. All four taken together, we have "2-0-1-2". The stamps combine to form a complete sphere, with colourful cylinders that resemble fireworks, suggesting the excitement and vitality of the Games.

The third stamp is also part of a series of four, issued on February 28, 2013 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross. These portray, in vibrant colours and simple designs, the four pillars of ICRC action:

• Protection ($1.40) - it's on this postcard
• Assistance ($2.40)
• Prevention ($3.00)
• Cooperation ($5.00)

Perforations in the shape of a cross are used for the first time by Hongkong Post, to highlight the emblem of the ICRC.

Tibet - Wikipedia
Prayer wheel - Wikipedia
Tibetan prayer wheel - Wikipedia
About Prayer Wheels - Tibetan Prayer Wheels
The Prayer Wheel - Dharma Haven
XXX Olympiad Games London 2012 - Philately News
The 150th Anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross - Hongkong Post Stamps

Sender: Kun Hu (direct swap)
Sent from Honk Kong, on 14.03.2013

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