According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Snake will begin on 10 February 2013. It will mark the beginning of Chinese New Year celebrations in New Zealand, China and around the world.
The snake is the sixth animal in the Chinese lunar calendar, and those born in the Year of the Snake are thought to be elegant, insightful, motivated and highly intellectual. According to ancient Chinese folklore, snakes are deities in disguise, and a snake entering a house brings good fortune for all who live there.
The 2013 Year of the Snake stamp issue reflects different aspects of Chinese tradition and culture. The four illustrated stamps also celebrate New Zealand’s growing Chinese community.
70c – Chinese Calligraphic Snake
The striking Chinese ‘snake’ character on this stamp was created by Zhao Meng-fu, a scholar, painter and calligrapher from the Yuan Dynasty (1254-1322 AD). Known for his ‘revivalist’ approach, Zhao rejected the gentle brushwork of his era in favour of the cruder style of the 8th century.
$1.40 – Paper-cut Greeting Snake
The art of Chinese paper-cutting (jianzhi) can be traced back to the period known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-581 AD). The greeting snake paper-cut on this stamp features images of the silver fern (Cyathea dealbata) and the pomegranate – a Chinese symbol of luck, fertility, wealth and long life.
$1.90 – Koru-Snake Lantern
New Zealand’s links with China are celebrated in this lantern design, which features a koru-shaped snake. The unfurling fern represents new life, growth and strength, while the rounded lantern symbolises wholeness and harmony. The snake is decorated with the peony, which is widely regarded as China’s national flower.
$2.40 – Queenstown and Red Lanterns
The koru-snake lantern is taken to new heights in the $2.40 stamp, soaring on the Skyline Gondola above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. This area is also home to the Winter Festival, and in 2012 the Festival included a lantern parade, with an array of colourful lanterns and a Chinese dragon lighting up the streets.
Title: Year of the snake – New Zealand
Date of Issue: 9 January 2013
Country: New Zealand
Denominations: 70c, $1.40, $1.90 and $2.40