January 12, 2014

0965 CHINA (Shaanxi) - Inside the Yellow Earth

In China, the Yellow Earth usually refers to the Loess Plateau (also known as the Huangtu Plateau), located in the country's northern part, on the upper and middle reaches of Yellow River (which in fact took its name even at the Yellow Earth), extending northeast to southwest for more than 1,000km, and having several hundred kilometers wide. More specifically, the Loess Plateau and its dusty soil cover almost all of Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, as well as parts of Gansu province, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, being a transition zone to the steppes and desert regions of Inner Mongolia.

Loess is a silty sediment, highly prone to erosion, deposited on the plateau by wind storms, favoured of lack of vegetation. Because loess soils are high in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, and because they retain water effectively, they are productive despite the region’s seasonally dry climate. The plateau is also acknowledged as the birthplace of Chinese nationality. The tomb of Emperor Huang (the Yellow Emperor), said to be the ancestor of the Chinese people, still locates on the northern Shaanxi province.

Being one of China's driest regions, in the past centuries people in the area developed a special cave dwelling (Yaodong), dug into the sunny slope of the hills till they finish an arch-roofed cave. The poor transport means and the inaccessibility to information solidifies the evolution of productive methods and people's lifestyles. Farmers in the regions still cultivate lands with manual labor and the harvest relies heavily on the unpredictable weather. As a result, the grandest sacrificial ritual in the plateau is the rain-praying ceremony.

Every year before the spring planting, the farmers throng atop hills to offer sacrifices for the Dragon King, the legendary Rain God, for favorable weather and a bumper harvest in the coming year.  In the postcard is a system composed of two circular stones (one fixed and one that rotates, pulled by a donkey, around an axis placed in the center of the former), remained unchanged for millennia, which probably stood subsequently the basis to the watermills and windmills for grinding grain.

About the stamps

The first two stamps are part of the first set of the series Ming and Qing Dynasty Furniture, depicting seating furniture, designed by Ma Gang and Yu Shan, and issued on June 20, 2011:
• Tihong rosewood embedded copper dragon throne (Qing Dynasty) (80 fen)
• Pear wood folding chair (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen)
• Pear wood official's hat armchair, decorated with craving Chinese charactera Fu (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen) - it's on the postcard
• Pear wood armchair, decorated with cravied hornless dragon medallions (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen) - it's on the postcard
• Rosewood embedded marble armchair (Qing Dynasty) (120 fen) - it's on other postcard
• Rosewood drum stool embedded marble (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen) - it's on other postcard

On June 9, 2012 was issued a second set of this series, which depict tables. All four stamps have the same face values, 120 fen:
• Pear Wood Clip-Tenon Drawing Table (Ming Dynasty) - it's on other postcard
• Pear wood square table, decorated with openwork carving hornless dragon design (Qing Dynasty) - it's on other postcard
• Pear wood high waist square incense stand with stone surface (Ming Dynasty)
• Rock wood table with everted flanges and decoration of elephant design (Ming Dynasty)

The third stamp is part of the series Gold and Bronze Buddha Statues, designed by Xia Jinqiu and issued on June 16, 2013:
• Gilt-Bronze Guanyin Bodhisattva (Five Dynasties) (80 fen)
• Gilt-Bronze Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Song Dynasty) (120 fen)
• Gilt-Bronze Sakyamuni Buddha (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen)
• Gilt-Bronze Amitayus Buddha (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen)
• Gilt-Bronze Manjusri Bodhisattva (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen) - it's on the postcard
• Gilt-Bronze Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Ming Dynasty) (120 fen)
• Gilt-Bronze Buddha Figures (500 fen)

The fourth stamp is part of a set of four, belonging to the series Protecting the common homeland of mankind, about which I wrote here. The fifth is part of a set of two, belonging to the same series Protecting the common homeland of mankind, about which I also wrote here.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #153, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is: Anything you wish. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.


Loess Plateau - Wikipedia
Pictures of the Yellow Earth By Xu Yong - Travelogue With China Photos
2013-14 Gold and Bronze Buddha Statues - Xabusiness
2011-15 Ming and Qing Dynasty Furniture - Seating Furniture - Xabusiness
2012-12 Ming and Qing Dynasty Furniture - Table - Xabusiness

Sender: Kun Hu (direct swap)
Sent from ? (? / China), on 20.07.2013
Photo: Xu Yong


  1. The chairs reminded me of the one at our local art museum that was broken by a visitor who sat in it, ignoring the sign not to touch it.

  2. Oh, I love postcard from Cina! It's amazing country :-)

  3. Both the postcard and the furniture stamps are beautiful. I like postcards showing daily life scenes. The chairs remind me of my grandpa who is good with creating wood furniture -- he's resting in peace now.

  4. I guess furniture is not seen so often on stamps, these are very nice.

  5. Furniture on stamps is a bit unusual - that is why it has never been a theme. These are lovely pieces. I did not know the Loess plateau was so extensive!
    thank you for joining us this week.

  6. Beautiful furniture on beautiful stamps.