It’s that time of year again—a time to explore the enchanting world of Chinese astrology; a time to celebrate the fascinating myths, legends and traditions behind this ancient calendar system.
“The Year of the Tiger issue is a cross-cultural celebration of the tiger figure in the Chinese traditio”.
A Chinese seal, a stamp used as a form of signature, is featured on the international stamp, while its imprint, portraying the tiger in a traditionally stylized manner, appears on the domestic stamp. The seal was designed by Lam and sculpted by Chinese-Canadian artist Bill Lau, using Sculpey polymer clay. “Seals are often so well-crafted that they act as cultural artifacts in themselves. In the design, the seal works to establish a visual theme that delivers both a two-dimensional icon and a three-dimensional object,” Lam explains. “We applied gold foil to the seal’s imprint, because 2010 is dominated by the metal element and gold is the highest-valued metal in China.” A symbol of wealth and good fortune to the Chinese, the colour gold speaks to lunar hopes of good luck and prosperity. Clear foil and multi-level embossing techniques were applied to draw attention to the seal, notes Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. “These features combine to catch the light and really give prominence to Lau’s sculpture,” Leduc points out.
The fierce tiger, painted by Lam and featured in the background of the souvenir sheet, illustrates the status of the tiger in Chinese lore. “In China, the tiger is at once a figure of power and of obedience,” says Lam.
“Tigers are respectful of their culture, community, and the authority of their tradition. They represent values that have helped guide generations of people into prosperity, while promoting a cohesive culture.” The long, scroll-like shape of the souvenir sheet—a format that will remain standard throughout the series—is also rooted in Chinese tradition, as decorative scrolls are believed to have originated in China.
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