January 30, 2014

0999 INDONESIA (Java) - Being the owner of a cock makes him proud

The truth is that the cock from the postcard is a really beautiful one. At first I believe that is a fighting cock, especially that cockfighting is a very old tradition in Balinese Hinduism, but then I realized that can't be, because it has big comb and wattle, and at the fighting cocks these are removed, because they would be a disadvantage during a match. Moreover, the man is Javanese. Anyway, the rooster is an important animal for many ethnic groups from Indonesia, of different religions. I don't know much about birds, so I can't say precisely what breed is, probably Bekisar or Kedu.

January 28, 2014

0998 GERMANY (Bavaria) - Freight locomotive 86 260 in 1968 at Plattling depot

The DRG Class 86 was a standard goods train tank locomotive with the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG) (German Imperial Railway Company), intended for duties on branch lines. They were of 2-8-2 wheel arrangement in the Whyte notation, or 1′D1′ h2 in the UIC classification, most often referred to as a Mikado, frequently shortened to Mike, but at times it was also referred as the McAdoo Mikado and, during WWII, the MacArthur. This wheel arrangement allows the locomotive's firebox to be placed behind instead of above the driving wheels, thereby allowing a larger firebox that could be both wide and deep. This supported a greater rate of combustion and thus a greater capacity for steam generation, allowing for more power at higher speeds.

January 27, 2014

0997 INDIA - Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

In 1869, when was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, had passed 11 years since the British Crown had taken over the direct rule of British Raj (comprising at that time almost all present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar), and in 1948, when he was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist, just had taken place the partition of the British Indian Empire, which had resulted in the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan (later split into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later Republic of India). As though he came into the world just to destroy the British Raj and to bring independence to India. Known in the West as Mahatma (Great Soul in Sanskrit), name given by Rabindranath Tagore, and in India as Bapu (endearment for "father" in Gujarati), he was not only the man who led India to independence, but also the one who inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world, his rules about nonviolent civil disobedience  being followed by other important leaders and activists, as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Cesar Chavez, or Desmond Tutu.

0996 FRANCE (New Aquitaine) - Bordeaux, Port of the Moon (UNESCO WHS)

Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River, in southwestern France, known mainly as the world's wine industry capital. At first a Celtic settlement, it came under Roman rule around 60 BC, being sacked by the Vandals, then by the Visigoths and Franks, who have taken it in possession. It started to play a regional role on the fringes of the Frankish Duchy of Vasconia, being meant to keep in check the Basques and defend the mouth of the Garonne from the Vikings. Between 12th and 15th centuries it regained importance following the marriage of Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine with Count Henri Plantagenet, the future King Henry II of England. The city flourished, even being for a while the capital of an independent state, but in the end was annexed by France. In the 16th century it became the center of the distribution of sugar and slaves from the West Indies, along with the traditional wine. The 18th century was its golden age, many downtown buildings being built in this period. In 1870, at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, the French government relocated to Bordeaux. This happened again during the WWI and again very briefly during the WWII, when it was also a submarine base from Axis powers.

January 26, 2014

0989 MOROCCO - Two women, two colours, the same hayek

The Qur'an instructs both Muslim men and women to be modest. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and Muslim World, this modesty concerns to gaze, gait, garments, and genitalia. The consequence is the hijab (that literally means in Arabic “screen" or "curtain”), which not only refers to the physical body covering, but also embodies a metaphysical dimension, where al-hijab refers to "the veil which separates man or the world from God." As clothing, hijab is a veil that covers the head and chest of the Muslim women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family. He may have a broader sense, refering to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women as a symbol of modesty, privacy and morality. A traditional Muslim garment is the abaya, a simple, loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress, traditionally black, a large square of fabric draped from the shoulders or head, or a long caftan. The abaya covers the whole body except the face, feet, and hands. It can be worn with the niqāb, a face veil covering all but the eyes.

January 25, 2014

0988 SPAIN (Andalusia) - The map of Andalusia

Even if Spain is a highly decentralized state, being composed, in terms of administrative, by 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities, is, in accordance with the constitution of 1978, a unitary state, not a federation. In other words, the Spanish nation is the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards, which is integrated by nationalities and regions to which the constitution recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government.

January 24, 2014

0029, 0987 INDIA (Tamil Nadu) - Great Living Chola Temples (UNESCO WHS)

0029 A gateway of  Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur

Posted on 06.11.2011, 24.01.2014
The Great Living Chola Temples, which includes the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram, were built by kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. These complexes form a unique group, demonstrating a progressive development of high Chola architecture and art at its best and at the same time encapsulating a very distinctive period of Chola history and Tamil culture.

0987 A fresco in Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur

Brihadisvara temple, also known as Rajarajeswaram or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, is located in Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore), in the southern part of India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and considered as one of the greatest glories of India, this temple reflects the power of its creator, Raja Raja Chola I (985-1014), the greatest of the Chola Monarchs, who built it between 1003 and 1010. The temple can be approached from the eastern side through two gateways (gopuras).

January 23, 2014

0985, 0986 SPAIN (Andalusia) - Alhambra - part of Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (UNESCO WHS)

0985 Panorama of the Alhambra

Although the area was inhabited from at least the 8th century B.C., the actual founding of present day Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of four rivers (the Beiro, the Darro, the Genil and the Monachil), took place in the 11th century, during a civil war that ended the Caliphate. In a short time this village was transformed into one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus, spreading across the Darro to reach the hill of the future Alhambra, and included the Albayzín neighborhood.

0986 Alhambra -Ornamental works in stucco and azulejos

With the Reconquista in full swing after the conquest of Cordoba in 1236, the Nasrids aligned themselves with Ferdinand III of Castile, officially becoming the Emirate of Granada in 1238. In 1492, the last Muslim ruler in Iberia, Emir Muhammad XII, surrendered complete control of the Emirate of Granada to Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Los Reyes Católicos (The Catholic Monarchs), after the last battle of the Granada War. Actually the fall of Granada completed the Reconquista, putting an end to the 800 year-long Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula.

0710, 0979-0984 UNITED STATES (Pennsylvania) - Life in Amish Country

Posted on 30.06.2013, completed on 23.01.2014
"Strolling along a rural road and admiring the flower, this Amish family is the sum total of all who went before. The Amish work with nature, not against it. They live in peace and brotherhood with with both man and nature - and in respecting both they have prospered." Even though I don't know this community than from some books and movies, I think that this description of the postcard is very appropriate. Known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt the modern technology, the Amish (a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships, actually a subgroup of the Mennonite churches) live in closed communities in 27 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario, the largest population being in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish. In the early 18th century, many Amish and Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania as a reaction to religious wars, poverty, and religious persecution on the Continent. The rules of the church, the Ordnung (order in German), must be observed by every member and cover most aspects of day-to-day living, including prohibitions or limitations on the use of power-line electricity, telephones, and automobiles, as well as regulations on clothing. Members who don't follow these rules are excommunicated. There is generally a heavy emphasis on church and family relationships, and a large families is considered a blessing from God. The more traditionally minded groups became known as the Old Order Amish. Most of them share a German or Swiss-German ancestry and speak Pennsylvania Dutch.

The Amish clothing is plain, and must not call attention. Hook-and-eye closures or straight pins are used as fasteners on dress clothing. Snaps are used on everyday clothes, and plain buttons for work shirts and trousers. Some groups tend to limit color to black and white, while others allow muted colors. Women wear calf-length plain-cut dresses in a solid color. Aprons are worn at home, usually in white (the unmarried) or purple or black (the married), and are always worn when attending church. Girls in some areas may wear colored bonnets until age nine, and begin wearing a cape for church and dress up occasions at about age eight. Men wear dark-colored trousers, with a dark vest or coat, and broad-rimmed straw hats in the warmer months. Married men and those over forty grow a beard. Mustaches are forbidden, because they are associated with European military officers and militarism in general.

Usually, the Amish don't educate their children past the eighth grade, believing that the knowledge offered up to that point is sufficient to prepare a child for their lifestyle. On the other hand, they believe that the pathway to heaven is paved with modesty, so a person must be separate from the world, forsake self interest and humbly submit to the authority of the church. The public education is considered a springboard toward individual advancement, independence, power, and distancing of the simple life. So the purpose of Amish education isn't to promote individuality and critical thinking, or to create artists, scientists, musicians or actors, but to prepare the children to remain Amish. In many communities, they have their own schools, which are typically one-room schoolhouses with teachers (young unmarried women) from their community.

According to the Amish, "progress" is not assumed to mean "something better", so they don't accept many of the modern conveniences - such as electricity generated by public power lines, TVs, computers and modern tractors - which are considered to be tempting elements from an "outside world", that could lead the Amish away from their close-knit community or weaken the family structure. However is acceptable to use some limited forms of electricity (such as battery power for the lights on their buggies), the phone (only a public one, not private) and some machinery (such as tractors without rubber tires). In this sense one of the icons of the Amish culture is the horse and buggy, though it has been a symbol of separation for only about the last century. It is the prominent mode of transportation, naturally limiting travel, and therefore, interaction with the non-Amish world. But while owning a car isn't permitted, to be a passenger is no compromise to their beliefs. Amish businessmen often have agreements with non-Amish persons to haul materials as needed, or hire a non-Amish employee who provides a vehicle.

Because children aren't counted in local congregation numbers, it's difficult to put an exact figure on the number of Amish, but was estimated that in 2008 were 221,000. In addition, they are among the fastest-growing populations in the world, with an average of seven children per family. There are Old Order communities in 27 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario; Ohio has the largest population (55,000), followed by Pennsylvania (51,000) and Indiana (38,000). One of the largest Amish settlements are in Lancaster County (in south-central Pennsylvania), known since the 18th century as the Garden Spot of America. Even if only around 30,000 Amish people live in this county (6.37% of the total population), Lancaster is synonymous in American popular culture with Amish country, a place of peace, prosperity, and traditional values that has somehow survived unscathed the upheavals of the 20th century.


Amish homes are also plain and modest, though they tend to be sprawling to provide for extended family. Most are painted white, and old order homes are devoid of pictures on the walls and usually have no window curtains. Amish give their main house to the oldest son, when they retire, and, if there are children at home yet, there is a fairly large grandpa house built or if they don’t retire, the son will more than likely buy a farm or stay on the family land. Isn't uncommon for three and sometimes, four generations of a family to live under the same roof. The "family" provides the member with a status within the home and within the community. A person is more of a member of the family, rather than an individual. Each member has a job, a position, a responsibility, and a status.

January 21, 2014

0977 MOROCCO (Souss-Massa-Drâa) - Aït Larbi Kasbah on Dadès River valley

A kasbah is a type of fortress (citadel) in the Islamic cities, built by local leaders to live in it, and as defense when the city was under attack. On the valley of Dadès River, which rises in the High Atlas and then turns south crossing through the Dadès Gorge, then westward between the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain ranges, are many such kasbahs. One of them is Aït Larbi, located near of Dadès Gorge, not far from Boumalne Dades, a town situated at the edge of a desert plateau. Built in the late 19th century, it consists actually of three kasbahs: Aït Hamid, Aït Amer, and Aït Juia Ali. The landscape that surrounds further increases their artistic value, by providing one of the most spectacular in the region settings.

0976 GERMANY (Hesse) - A Bembel of Apfelwein, please, and Handkäse mit Musik!

Cider or cyder (named also "apple wine" in some regions) is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from fruit juice, traditionally apple juice, which varies in alcohol content from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more. Can be classified from dry to sweet, its appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and its colour from light yellow through orange to brown,  the variations in clarity and colour being mostly due to filtering between pressing and fermentation. Is popular in the United Kingdom, that has the highest per capita consumption, as well as the largest producing companies in the world, but is also traditional in other European countries, such as Ireland, France (Brittany and Normandy), Spain (Asturias, Basque Country and Galicia), Poland or Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse).

January 20, 2014

0975 NEW ZEALAND - The map and the flag of the country

Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, at 1,500km east of Australia, New Zealand (Aotearoa in Māori) comprises two main landmasses - the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu) - and numerous smaller islands. Is long and narrow, and has a mild and temperate maritime climate. The South Island is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, and the east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains, while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines such as Fiordland, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The North Island is less mountainous but is marked by volcanism. The highly active Taupo Volcanic Zone has formed a large volcanic plateau, punctuated by the island's highest mountain, Mount Ruapehu, and host of the country's largest lake, Lake Taupo, nestled in a caldera. The country owes the varied topography to its position straddling the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates. Actually it's part of Zealandia, a microcontinent that gradually submerged, after breaking away from the Gondwanan supercontinent. During its long isolation (80 million years), it developed a distinctive biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life, most notable being the large number of unique bird species.

January 19, 2014

0363 UNITED KINGDOM (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) - Wandering Albatross

Considered Antarctic territories, because are located south to the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) have a polar climate, at higher elevations being permanently covered with ice and snow. In addition, most of the islands, rising steeply from the sea, are rugged and mountainous. As a result, they are inhospitable for humans. On the other hand, they embrace many rocks offshore and small islands that provide homes for breeding birds and mammals.

0973 UNITED STATES (New York) - St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City

The Cathedral of St. Patrick is prominent landmark of New York City, located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets in midtown Manhattan, across the street from Rockefeller Center. Designed by James Renwick, Jr. in the Gothic Revival style, it replaced the Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral in downtown Manhattan as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Its cornerstone was laid on August 15, 1858, but the work was halted during the Civil War, being resumed in 1865 and completed in 1878. The spires were added in 1888, and an addition on the east, including a Lady chapel, designed by Charles T. Mathews, was begun in 1900. The Lady Chapel's stained-glass windows were made between 1912 and 1930 by Paul Vincent Woodroffe. In 1927 and 1931, the cathedral was renovated, which included enlarging the sanctuary and installing the great organ.

The cathedral, which can accommodate 2,200 people, is built of brick clad in marble, quarried in Massachusetts and New York, and the slate for the roof came from Monson, Maine. The windows were made by artists in Boston, Massachusetts and European artists from Chartres (France) and Birmingham (England). Charles Connick created the rose window. In 2012 was announced the renovation of the church, in three-phase, because of crumbling bricks, faulty heating, and acid rain and pollution. The first phase, which involves repairing, restoring, and cleaning the soot-covered exterior, and an extensive cleaning of the outside and inside surfaces of the stained glass windows, is nearing completion. 

0972 UKRAINE (Autonomous Republic of Crimea) - Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (UNESCO WHS)

Chersonesus is an ancient Greek colony founded approximately 2,500 years ago, by settlers from Heraclea Pontica, on the shore of the Black Sea (now in a Sevastopol's suburb), in the southwestern part of the Crimean Peninsula, known then as Taurica. During much of the classical period, it was a democracy ruled by a group of elected archons and a council called the Damiorgi. In the late 2nd century BC it became a dependency of the Bosporan Kingdom, in 1st century BC was subject to Rome, and in the 370s AD was captured by the Huns.

January 16, 2014

0971 AUSTRIA (Salzburg) - The hotel on the peak Schafberg

0971 The hotel on the peak Schafberg

Situated within the Salzkammergut mountain range of the Northern Limestone Alps, the Schafberg (1783m) rises at the shore of the lake Wolfgang (538m above sea level). In the town of Sankt Wolfgang there is a rack railway, with a length of 5.85 km, built between 1892 and 1893, which ascends from 1,365m to 1,730m altitude (only from May to October). The peak offers a panoramic view of the Salzkammergut mountains and lakes and is also the site of a hotel (Schafbergspitze), established in 1862 (in the postcard), as the first mountain hotel in Austria.