June 13, 2015

1662 ROMANIA (Covasna) - The Székely National Museum in Sfântu Gheorghe

The Székelys are a subgroup of the Hungarian people living mostly in the valleys and hills of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, corresponding to the present-day Harghita, Covasna, and parts of Mureş counties in Romania, a historic and ethnographic area named Székely Land. Their origin has been much debated, but today is now generally accepted that they are descendants of Magyarized Turkic peoples transplanted to the eastern Carpathians to guard the frontier of the Kingdom of Hungary, their name meaning simply "frontier guards". They identify themselves as Hungarians, but they maintain a somewhat distinct ethnic identity from other Hungarians.

Originally, the name Székely Land denoted the territories of a number of autonomous Székely seats within  Transylvania. This self-governing seats existed until 1876, when were replaced with counties. Along with Transylvania, Székely Land became a part of Romania after WWI, in accordance with the Treaty of Trianon. Under the name Magyar Autonomous Region, with Târgu Mureş as capital, parts of Székely Land enjoyed a certain level of autonomy between 1952 and 1968. Important centers of the region are Târgu-Mureş (Marosvásárhely), Miercurea Ciuc (Csíkszereda), Sfântu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy), and Odorheiu Secuiesc (Székelyudvarhely).

Lying on the Olt River, in a valley between the Baraolt Mountains and Bodoc Mountains, Sfântu Gheorghe is one of the oldest cities in Transylvania, the settlement first having been documented in 1332. As one of the Székelys' centres, is home of the Székely National Museum, founded in 1875. At present, it represents the biggest Hungarian public collection outside Hungary. The complex designed by Károly Kós and erected between 1911 and 1912 comprises a library and departments for natural science, archeology-history and ethnography. The building assembles many aspects of Kós’ ideas of a Transylvanian architecture. There are distinct references in the form, planning and construction of the Museum to a number of Transylvanian castles, fortifications, towers and churches and to the simple form and spirit of the traditional Székely house.

About the stamps
About the first stamp, issued in 2014 to celebrate Christmas, I wrote here. About the last, issued in 2015 to celebrate the Easter,I wrote here.

The second stamp has a unique philatelic value for collectors. Actually it has only philatelic value, because it can't be used in the postal circuit, being edited by a organisation (Székelyudvarhely Foundation) which is not entitled to issue postage stamps. The stamp, designed by graphic artist Barnabás Baticz, depicts Virgin Mary of Şumuleu Ciuc (Csíksomlyó) and the Székely coat of arms, designed by graphic artist Barnabás Baticz. It incorporates also the name of Székely Land written by Latin and Rovas characters. No face value specified. According to the publisher, the release of the stamp carries a symbolic message; it pays tribute to the autonomy struggle of Székely Hungarians. In my opinion, "struggle" is an word at least exaggerated, since the Székelys have schools in their mother tongue, until the highest level, and are supported by the authorities in all their efforts aimed to cultivate and preserve their traditions.

Székelys - Wikipedia
Székely Land - Wikipedia
Székely National Museum - Official website

Sender: Victor Moldoveanu (Every Day is a Mail Day)
Sent from Sfântu Gheorghe (Covasna / Romania), on 03.06.2015

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