December 31, 2014

0344, 1387 ROMANIA (Suceava) - The Old and Lonely Apple-tree

Posted on 27.09.2012, and completed on 31.12.2014
The idea behind my collection is to create a meaningful and (possibly) coherent image of each country, which to contain the people (with their legacies, be they material or cultural, and with the things out of their hands), history and the beauty of the places. All are closely related, because on one hand the things that surround people reflects their way of thinking and feeling (individually or/and collectively), and on the other their minds and souls are influenced both by the place where they live and by what their predecessors left behind. That is why this wonderful picture fits quite well in my collection. The photo is impressive in a natural way, and arouses a indefinite, congenital nostalgia, unrelated to a particular place or an lived event. Nostalgia of loss of something you've never had or simply the sadness of being.

On the first photo is written "Copacul meu bătrân şi singur, mărul fără flori din vârful Runcului", that means "My old and lonely tree, the apple tree without flowers from the top of Runcu". Thus I found out that the subject of the photography isn't a some one, found incidentally, this lonely and tormented apple tree from the (presumably hill) Runcu being a very well known and cherished tree by the photographers from Gura Humorului (town near which it's located, in Suceava county). So cherished, that the local photoclub name is even Mărul (The Apple). Very cool. Therefore you will find on the photoclub site (but also on other sites / blogs / facebook pages) many pictures of this real local "celebrity".

1386 CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE - A sandpainting postcard

Handmade postcards aren't among my favorites, but this one received from Brazzaville is an exception, especially that it comes from a country difficult to access and it was achieved by a special technique, namely sandpainting. Sandpainting (or drypainting) is the art of pouring colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural or synthetic sources onto a surface to make a fixed, or unfixed sand painting. It is practiced by Native Americans in the Southwestern United States, by Tibetan and Buddhist monks, by Australian Aborigines, by Latin Americans on certain Christian holy days, but also by some modern artists worldwide.

December 30, 2014

1385 ITALY (Veneto) - Teatro La Fenice in Venice

Teatro La Fenice (The Phoenix) is an opera house in Venice, one of "the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre" as well as those in Europe. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers - Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi were performed. Its name reflects its role in permitting an opera company to "rise from the ashes" despite losing the use of three theatres to fire, in 1774, 1836, and 1996. Last time La Fenice was rebuilt in 19th century style on the basis of a design by architect Aldo Rossi who, in order to obtain details of its design, used still photographs from the opening scenes of Luchino Visconti's 1954 film Senso which had been filmed in the house.

December 29, 2014

1384 MEXICO (Michoacán) - Indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead (UNESCO ICH)

1384 Dance of The Old Men in Janitzio

The town of Janitzio (which means "where it rains") is located atop the hill of the Isla de Janitzio, the main island of Lake Pátzcuaro (on the background of the postcard), whereof the natives believe that is the place where the barrier between life and death is the thinnest. On the island's highest point can be seen a 40m statue of José María Morelos, a great hero of Mexico's independence. The Lake Pátzcuaro basin is home to the Purépecha (Tarascan) people, who in pre-colonial times occupied most of the state of Michoacán, but also some of the lower valleys of Guanajuato and Jalisco. The Tarascan state was never conquered by the Aztec Empire, despite several attempts to do so, probably due to the Purépecha knowledge of metal working, which was superior to that of the Aztecs.

December 28, 2014

1382 UNITED STATES (Maine) - Marshall Point Light in Port Clyde

Port Clyde is the southernmost settlement on the Saint George peninsula in central/coastal  Maine, and part of the town of Saint George. In the 19th century, it became a busy port featuring granite quarries, tide mills for sawing timber, and shipbuilding and fish canning businesses. Marshall Point Light Station was established in 1832 to assist boats entering and leaving Port Clyde Harbor. The original lighthouse was a 6.1m tower lit by seven lard oil lamps with 14-inch reflectors, but in 1857 this was replaced with the present one. It is a 9.4m tall white brick tower on a granite foundation. The tower was originally lit with a 5th order Fresnel lens. A raised wooden walkway connects the tower to land.

1381 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / North Brabant) - Eindhoven in 21th century

Although the written history of Eindhoven, the largest city of North Brabant, started in 1232, many people only know it for the events and achievements from the 20th century. For example, those passionate about history know it due to the Operation Market Garden in the WWII, the football fans because of the club PSV Eindhoven, and businessmen due to the giant Philips. The postcard illustrates very well the image of the city in the 21st century, with several modern buildings.

December 27, 2014

1380 SOLOMON ISLANDS - A bride with shell money from Malaita Province

Named after its largest island, Malaita is one of the largest provinces of the Solomon Islands, the island nation located in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu. Malaitans are of a varying phenotype. The skin varies from rich chocolate to tawny, most clearly darker than Polynesians, but not generally as dark as the peoples of Bougainville or the western Solomons, who Malaitans refer to as "black men". Most of them are shorter than average Europeans, though not as short as Negritos.

December 26, 2014

1379 MONGOLIA - Tsaatan people

The Tsaatan (named also Dukha, Dukhans or Duhalar) are a small Tuvan (Tozhu Tuvans) Turkic community of reindeer herders living in northern Mongolia. The North Taiga band was organized under the Qing Dynasty as part of Uriyankhai banner. With Mongolian independence in 1911, the banner became part of independent Tuva, which was annexed by the Russians in 1944, leaving only North Taiga band on the Mongolian side of the frontier. The South Taiga group of the Tsaatan and other Uriankhais fled over the frontier from Tuva to avoid conscription in the 1930s. At first, the Mongolian government repeatedly deported them back to Tuva, but in 1956 finally gave them citizenship and resettled them at Tsagaan Nuur Lake on the Shishigt River. Only 44 Tsaatan families remained, totaling somewhere between 200 and 400 people.

1378 GUERNSEY (Lihou) - Lihou Island

Lihou is a small tidal island located just off the west coast of the island of Guernsey, at low tide being linked to the nearby L'Erée headland, on Guernsey, by a 400m stone causeway. Part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown depencencies, in the past was used by locals for the collection of seaweed for use as a fertiliser, but today Lihou is mainly used for tourism, including school trips. Lihou is also an important centre for conservation, forming part of a Ramsar wetland site for the preservation of rare birds and plants as well as historic ruins of a priory and a farmhouse. Apart from shingle beaches, the island has a 20m high ridge running approximately north-south.

1376 AUSTRALIA (Victoria) - Virgin and Child in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne

On October 31, 2014 Australia Post has issued, as in every year, a series of stamps and also a set of maxicards to celebrate Christmas. The set contains five stamps, divided into two distinct categories, in fact two themes. Four of the stamps, festive and colourful, represent the familiar trappings and sentiments of Christmas celebration and recall techniques of paper cut design as well as snow crystals. The other two have a religious theme, being based on stained-glass windows in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.

December 25, 2014

1375 ROMANIA - Pluguşorul

In Romania, Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th December (Saint Ignatius's Day, when is sacrificed the pig, its meat being used in the Christmas meal) to 7th January (Saint John's Day). This period is very important in Romania, as in all the Christian  countries, but not few traditions are much older, prior the Christianization. One of these is Pluguşorul (which literally means "little plough" in Romanian), an ancient agrarian carol, with theatrical elements. Traditionally, in New Year's Eve, or in some regions even in New Year's Day, a band composed of two to twenty boys and men recently married, headed by a vătaf (bailiff), went from house to house to sing good wishes. A plow pulled by oxen, decorated with colored paper, ribbons, flowers, on which was put a fir tree, was a customary presence within this carol.

December 23, 2014

0353, 1373 SRI LANKA - Ancient City of Sigiriya (UNESCO WHS)

0353 Sigiriya frescoes

Posted on 06.10.2012, 23.12.2014
In the heart of the island Sri Lanka, dominating the surrounding jungle, rises approximately 370m Sigiriya (Lion's rock), sheer on all sides, in many places overhanging the base, elliptical in plan and with a flat top, which is gradually sloped along the long axis of the ellipse. Buddhist monastic settlements were established during the 3rd century BCE in the western and northern slopes. The rock was used as monastery since the 5th century BC, with caves prepared by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha.

1373 Lion's paw of Sigiriya rock

According to Mahavamsa, during King Kashyapa's reign (477-495 AD) Sigiriya developed into a complex city and fortress, being considered one of the most important urban planning sites of the first millennium, very elaborate and imaginative. There was a sculpted lion's head above the legs and paws flanking the entrance, but the head collapsed years ago. The poem recounts that Dhatusena, the unifier of the country and the first king of the Moriyan dynasty, had two sons, Moggallana, the son of the royal consort, and Kashyapa, born to a non-royal concubine.

December 22, 2014

1372 FINLAND (Åland) - Hammarudda, in Jomala

Located on  Fasta Åland, the main island of Åland, lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea, Jomala is a municipality which offers a variety of nature experiences. Apart from the sea coast, it contains also open fields, deciduous woodland meadows and Ice Age formations. It is not known from where the name Jomala originates but theories suggest that "jom" comes from the name of the Viking god Jom and that "ala" means "place". Therefore, Jomala would mean "the place where Jom is worshipped".

December 21, 2014

1371 UNITED STATES (South Carolina) - South Carolina map and flag

Located across the Savannah River, roughly triangular in shape and bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the south and west by Georgia, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, originally part of the  Province of Carolina, South Carolina was the first of the 13 colonies that declared independence from the British Crown during the American Revolution, but also the first state to vote to secede from the Union, which it did on December 20, 1860. The largest city of the state is Columbia, chosen as the state capital in 1786. Vacationers are attracted to Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand, to the Sea Island resorts, and to Charleston's stately homes and gardens. The state's historical places of interest include Fort Sumter National Monument, Kings Mountain National Military Park, and Cowpens National Battlefield.

1370 CROATIA (Primorje-Gorski Kotar) - Krk

Krk is an island in the northern Adriatic Sea, located near Rijeka in the Bay of Kvarner, inhabited without interruption since the Neolithic age. According to Greek and Latin sources, it is one of the Apsyrtidian or Electridian islands held by the Liburnians. For many years, Krk has been thought to be the largest Adriatic island, although recent measurements now give the neighboring island of Cres an equal surface area. Anyway, it is the most populous Adriatic island, with numerous towns and villages that contain a total of 19,286 inhabitants. Ruled by the Romans, then by the Byzantines, the island was conquered by Venetians for the first time in 1001, and from then its history was closely linked with the history of the Republic of Venice for seven centuries. In 1822 the Austrians separated the island from Dalmatia and linked it to Istria, so that Krk, Cres and Lošinj came under direct rule from Vienna. This link contributed to the Croatian National Revival and together with Kastav, the town of Krk played a leading role in the spread of Croatian education and culture. after a brief Italian Occupation (1918-1920), it was handed over to Croatia, then in Yugoslavia.

1359, 1369 UNITED STATES (Wisconsin) - Wisconsin map and flag

Posted on 14.12.2014, and completed on 21.12.2014
Bordered by the Montreal River, Lake Superior and Michigan to the north, by Lake Michigan to the east, by Illinois to the south, by Iowa to the southwest, and by Minnesota to the northwest, Wisconsin is known as "America's Dairyland" because it is one of the nation's leading dairy producers, particularly famous for cheese. The word Wisconsin originates from the name given to the Wisconsin River by one of the Algonquian-speaking American Indian groups living in the region at the time of European contact. With its location between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin is home to a wide variety of geographical features. The state is divided into five distinct regions: the Lake Superior Lowland in the north, the Northern Highland (with massive mixed hardwood and coniferous forests, as well as thousands of glacial lakes, and the state's highest point, Timms Hill), the Central Plain, the Eastern Ridges and Lowlands, and Western Upland (a rugged, hilly region deeply dissected by rivers and streams). The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan.

Wisconsin has been home to a wide variety of cultures over the past 12,000 years, but the agricultural societies emerged over the Woodland period (1000 BCE - 1000 CE). Later, between 1000 and 1500 CE, the Mississippian and Oneota cultures built substantial settlements. The Oneota may be the ancestors of the modern Ioway and Ho-Chunk tribes who shared the Wisconsin region with the Menominee at the time of European contact. The French visited the region since the early 17th century, but they didn't made permanent settlements before Great Britain won control of the region following the French and Indian War in 1763. The first permanent settlers, mostly French Canadians, some Anglo-New Englanders and a few African American freedmen, arrived in Wisconsin while it was under British control, when the fur trade reached its height.

1367 PAPUA NEW GUINEA (East New Britain) - Tavurvur volcano

Tavurvur is an active stratovolcano that lies near Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago. It is a sub-vent of the Rabaul caldera and lies on the eastern rim of the larger feature. An eruption of the volcano largely destroyed the nearby town of Rabaul in 1994. It is the most active volcano in Rabaul caldera, and the latest eruption began on 29 August 2014, prompting concerns over disruption of flights in Australian airspace due to the large ash clouds. Communities near the volcano were evacuated, while residents of the town of Rabaul were advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash.

December 20, 2014

1366 UKRAINE (City of Kiev) - A farmstead in Museum of Folk Architecture and Life from Pirogovo

One of the most interesting landmarks of Kiev is the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life, located in Pyrohiv (Pirogov), originally a village, now a neighborhood in the southern outskirts of the Ukrainian capital city. Its construction began in 1971 on a 150-ha site in a forest and park zone, and when completed, it will be the largest such museum in the world. By the summer of 1976 the first part had been opened to visitors.

1364 UNITED KINGDOM (Pitcairn Islands) - Oeno Island

Oeno Island or Holiday Island is a coral atoll in the South Pacific Ocean, part of the Pitcairn Islands overseas territory. Located at 143km northwest of Pitcairn Island, it serves as a private holiday site for the few residents of this island, who will travel there and stay for two weeks in January. In 1824 Captain George Worth named the atoll after his ship, the American whaler Oeno. The island measures about 5km in diameter (is almost round), and has two larger and three smaller islets on or within the rim of the atoll. It has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) principally for its colony of Murphy's Petrels, which, at some 12,500 pairs, is estimated to be the second largest colony of these birds in the world.At the bottom of the postcard is a series of stamps, Oeno Island Holiday, designed by G L Vasarhelyi, and issued on June 26, 1995. The artwork for this issue is based on photographic material supplied by Meralda Warren and Steve Christian of Pitcairn Island.

December 17, 2014

1362, 1363 TAIWAN - Taipei 101

Icon of modern Taiwan, Taipei 101, formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, was officially classified as the world's tallest building in 2004 (509m), and remained such until the opening of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. In July 2011, the skyscraper, designed by C.Y. Lee & partners and constructed primarily by KTRT Joint Venture, was awarded the LEED Platinum certification, the highest award according the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Fireworks launched from Taipei 101 feature prominently in international New Year's Eve broadcasts and the structure appears frequently in travel literature and international media. Architecturally created as a symbol of the evolution of technology and Asian tradition (for example, the repeated segments simultaneously recall the rhythms of an Asian pagoda), it comprises 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground.

Taipei 101 is designed to withstand the typhoon winds and earthquake tremors common in its area of the Asia-Pacific. The façade system of glass and aluminum panels installed into an inclined moment-resisting lattices contributes to overall lateral rigidity by tying back to the mega-columns with one-story high trusses at every eighth floor. This façade system is able to withstand up to 95mm of seismic lateral displacements without damage. Taipei 101's own roof and façade recycled water system meets 20-30% of the building's water needs. It claimed the official records for the fastest ascending elevator speed, designed to be 1,010 m/min.