May 9, 2014

1076 LEBANON - Baalbek (UNESCO WHS)

Situated east of the Litani River, in the Beqaa Valley, at the foot of the south-west slope of Anti-Lebanon, Baalbek, founded by Phoenicians and known as Heliopolis (in Greek, the City of the Sun) during the period of Roman rule, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the empire. The importance of this amalgam of ruins of the Greco-Roman period with even more ancient vestiges of Phoenician tradition, are based on its outstanding artistic and architectural value. The Roman construction was built on top of earlier ruins which were formed into a raised plaza, formed of 24 monoliths, the largest  weighing over 800 tons. The gods that were worshipped at the temple - Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus - were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis, and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design.

The Temple of Jupiter, principal temple of the Baalbek triad, was remarkable for its 20m high columns that surrounded the cella, and the gigantic stones of its terrace. The adjacent temple dedicated to Bacchus is exceptional; it is richly and abundantly decorated and of impressive dimensions with its monumental gate sculpted with Bacchic figures. The Round Temple or Temple of Venus differs in its originality of layout as well as its refinement and harmonious forms, in a city where other sanctuaries are marked by monumental structures. The only remaining vestige of the Temple of Mercury located on Cheikh Abdallah Hill, is a stairway carved from the rock. The Odeon, located south of the acropolis in a place known as Boustan el Khan, is also part of the Baalbek site, and considered among the most spectacular archaeological sites of the Near East.

The culture of Lebanon is the cross culture of various civilizations over thousands of years, but despite the ethnic, linguistic, religious and denominational diversity of the Lebanese, they "share an almost common culture”, deep-rooted “in wider Mediterranean and Levantine norms." Nevertheless, the traditional costumes in Lebanon are quite varied, so I will refer only to the clothes worn by the Dabke dancers from the postcard. Perhaps the most popular type of traditional clothing in the country are the sherwal, which are loose-fitting pants, although sometimes they are tight on the bottom or are worn over tight pants. The women wear also a type of sherwal of shiny silk, looking like the Kurdish one, because its fullness extends in di-minishing width to the ankle where it is plaited onto a ring or drawn up with a cord. Next to the sherwal the most distinguishing articles of dress are the headdresses, the surest clue to the sect and religion of its wearer. The women from the postcard has hijabs, that covers the head and chest, and the men a sort of turban, consisting of a cap, and a sash, or a scarf wound around the cap, hanging down the neck.

About the stamp

The stamp is part of a commemorative series about Lebanon’s cultural heritage,  issued on the June 28. The stamps, designed by Hiba Mikdashi, celebrate Lebanese artists who each innovated and had tremendous success in their own field, and participated in the development of the country’s artistic and cultural scene.
Fairouz (singer)
Basbous Brothers (sculptors)
Hassan Alaa Eddin (comedian)
Saïd Akl (poet)
Sabah (singer and performer) - It's on the postcard 1076
Caracalla (dance troop)
• Nabih Abou El-Hossn (actor) - It's on the postcard 2291
Wadih El Safi (actor singer/songwriter) - It's on the postcard 2291
• Alphabet
• Ehden Forest - It's on the postcard 1684

Baalbek - UNESCO official site
Baalbek - Wikipedia
The Origin of the Lebanese Dabke - World Lebanese Cultural Union official website
Origin of Levantine Costumes - Al Mashtiq

sender: Agnieszka
sent from Beirut (Lebanon), on 28.04.2014

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