Australia post issued a set of stamps and a miniature sheet to mark 2013 as the year of the snake. The Snake is the sixth sign in the Chinese zodiac and it symbolizes wisdom, caution and romance. The stamps feature the calligraphic symbol for the Snake and its pictorial derivation.
The Chinese zodiac is made up of a 12-year cycle, with Chinese animal signs used for dating the years. For festive seasons, such as the New Year, the Chinese lunar calendar is the determining factor and the recurring animal year cycle is Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
The stamps show the development of the Chinese character for the Snake, shown fully in the $1.80c stamp, and the way it is derived from its pictorial representation, shown in the 60c stamp. Paper-cut motifs are used to pictorially represent the Snake in the 60c stamp.
Year of the snake carries the meanings of malevolence, cattiness and mystery, as well as acumen, divination and the ability to distinguish herbs. During Spring Festival, people like to paste onto their doors and windows the paper-cut ‘Fu’ character (happiness), combined with a snake twisting around a rabbit onto their doors and windows as a popular pattern indicating wealth.
Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means your family will not starve. This could be taken metaphorically to mean that a Snake could never have a problem with his family starving because he is such a great mediator, making him good at business.
Or it could mean that a Snake would be willing to sacrifice his possessions, something the Snake has a lot of, in order to pay for his family’s food. Any way it is interpreted is representative of the Snake’s character and is a measure of the value he puts on his material wealth. The Snake is keen and cunning, quite intelligent and wise.
Title: Year of the snake – Australia
Date of Issue: 8 January 2012
Denominations: 60c, $1.80