|The beautiful flower
Azalea belongs to the azalea genus of the azalea family. There are over 850 species mainly distributed in China, Europe and the North America. The most concentrated growing areas are southeast Tibet, southwest Sichuan and northwest Yunnan, where over 100 species have been found. In Yunnan, the species of azalea take over half of China's total, where many countries in the world import azalea. The season for azalea to blossom is just when cuckoo (in Chinese language both azalea and cuckoo are called "Dujuan") starts singing. There are many ancient poems and romantic stories dedicated to the bird and the flower. There is also a festival for azalea. Azalea is usually a bush or a small arbor with different cultures and features in different environment. The smallest is only a couple of inches high growing along the ground. The biggest can exceed ten meters high, standing firm and grand. Azalea can be divided as deciduous and evergreen. The deciduous azalea has small leaves while the evergreen has bigger ones. Its color can be red, violet, yellow, white, pink or blue. It likes cool and wet environments and is cold-resistant, usually found in mountain slopes, grasslands, brinks of woods, cliffs and marshes in land of 1, 000-1, 400 meters above sea level. In addition to being ornamental, its flower leaves can be used as medicine or to draw fragrant oil, some of its flowers are edible. Its bark and leaves can be used as gum materials. Its wood can be used in artistic work. Some azalea in high mountains has developed roots, useful for reservation of water and soil.
Design: The set has eight stamps, depicting realistically eight species of azalea: Yingshanhong, widely planted in families or gardens across the world; Yellow azalea, ornamental as well as useful for making anesthetic and strongly poisonous agricultural chemical; Big Tree azalea, the biggest in the world and also called Azalea King; Great Lord Azalea and Zongbei Azalea, only found in China. Horse Hair Azalea has bright color; Cloud Azalea has color as light as clouds; Glistening Hair Azalea has red dots in its petals. The composition of the pictures is all made with techniques used in the Chinese paintings of birds and tree branches, which requires drawing shapes in ink before applying color. The designs of the stamps are simple and of clear themes, an excellent combination of Chinese and West painting techniques. The style is both tender, colorful and without dullness.