Mythology of old CHINA

Mythology originated in the early of mankind. They are mythical stories about remote ancient people's early understanding of the origin of the earth, natural phenomena and social life by way of supernatural images and imagination. Generally speaking, mythology is a simple and romantic form of literature. And it is a treasure in the mankind's treasure house of culture and arts.

The Chinese is a nation with a long history of civilization. Our ancestors created many beautiful mythologies and were in the lead in ancient civilizations. The Chinese mythology contains stories such as the separation of the heaven and earth, promotion of well-being of the people, fighting the evil and protecting the good, and pursuit for the light. They display the lofty qualities and great tenacity of the Chinese people. Most of the Chinese mythologies are contained in "Book of Mountains and Seas", "Chuci", "Huainanzi" and other books. Some of the mythical stories, e.g. "Pan Gu Separates the Sky from the Earth", "Jingwei Determines to Fill Up the Sea" and "Chang'e Flies to the Moon", are very popular in China, and have profound impact upon literature, arts and language of the later ages.

Design: The 6-1 is entitled "Pan Gu Separates the Sky from the Earth". This mythical story tries to explain the creation of heaven and earth. According to ancient books, the universe was at first one blurred entity like an egg. Pan Gu was born into it. Later Pan Gu stretched his body, and the heaven rose higher while the earth became thicker. But there were still some places where the heaven and earth glued together, so Pan Gu, holding a chisel in his left hand and an ax in his right hand, started the undertaking of separating the sky from the earth. And finally the sky was separated from the earth. The yang which was light and pure rose to become the sky, and the yin which was heavy and murky sank to form the earth, and between them was Pan Gu. After his death, his body became mountains and fields, sun, moon and stars, gold, jade, pearls and rocks, rain and dews. Therefore in the hearts of the ancient people, Pan Gu was the first ancestor of everything in the sky and on the earth. Shown on the stamp is Pan Gu standing between the sky and earth holding an ax and a chisel in his hands.

The 6-2 is entitled "Nuwa Mends the Sky". Nuwa is a goddess with a human head and snake body. She melted rocks of five colours to mend the cracks in the sky, killed the black dragon and blocked the flood so that mankind was able to recuperate and multiply. According to the "Taiping Anthologies for the Emperor", there were no men when the sky and the earth were separated. It was Nuwa who made men by molding yellow clay. The work was so taxing that her strength was not equal to it. So she dipped a rope into the mud and then shook it. The mud that dripped from the rope also became men. Those made by molding yellow clay were rich and noble, while those made by shaking the rope were poor and low. The stamp depicts Nuwa making men. Emphasis is made on the depiction of the charm and kindness of Nuwa.

The 6-3 is entitled "Yi Shoots Down Nine Suns". The story is included in the "Book of Mountains and Seas". Yi was originally a god in the heaven. As the Emperor of the Heaven saw there were frequent catastrophes on the earth and living was difficult for the people, he sent Yi down to the human world to fight the evil and protect the good. When he first came down on earth, there were ten suns in the sky. It was extremely hot and the plants withered and died. Yi drew out his bow and arrows and shot down nine suns at one goal, and thus relieved mankind of drought and heat. The stamp presents the image of Yi when he is shooting suns with his bow. Emphasis is made on the depiction of his fortitude and valor.

The 6-4 is entitled "Chang'e Flies to the Moon". It is recorded in the "Huainanzi" as follows: Yi went to the Kunlun Mountain to meet the Queen of the West, and got some elixir. Chang'e stole it and flew away with it to the moon. It is desolate on the moon, Chang'e often feels lonely and sad and can not help but think of the life in the human world. Men of letters of all ages have left many famous writings and poems based on the story. The stamp shows Chang'e's joys and suspense as she is approaching the moon.

The 6-5 is entitled "Kuafu Chases the Sun. According to the "Book of Mountains and Seas", there lived in a big mountain a man named Kuafu. When he saw the sun sinking in the west, he decided to chase the sun to retain it. When he finally caught up with the sun at Valley Yu, he was already sweating all over and very thirsty. Therefore he drank from the Yellow River and the Wei River until the two rivers became dry. But he was still thirsty. So he turned north, intending to drink from the Daze, and he died of thirst before he reached there. The walking stick he threw away turned into a forest of peach trees. The stamp displays the scorching sun, gigantic Kuafu who has the mountains and rivers under his feet and his hair fluttering at his back. It implies mankind's unyielding will and pursuit for the light.

The 6-6 is entitled "Jingwei Determines to Fill Up the Sea". According to the "Book of Mountains and Seas", "Strange Stories" and others, Jingwei was originally the daughter of Emperor Yandi. Caught in a storm she was drowned while swimming in the sea. After her death, she turned into a bird named Jingwei. It looked like a crow, but had a colourful head and a red bill. She hated the sea that had ended her young life. She carried bits of twigs and stones all the way from the west mountains. She was determined to fill up the sea so that it could no longer harm the humans. The story of Jingwei is tragic as well as stirring. It symbolizes the hardworking and enterprising spirit of the Chinese nation.

The stamps present the mythical stories of the remote ancient times through depiction of characters. In addition to that, appeared alternatively on the stamps are stone ax, willow twigs, bows, long sleeves, walking stick, stones and the separated sky and earth representing yang and yin, fish and fruit trees symbolic of reproduction, and also golden birds, toads, sun and seas. They form a picture of the things of the remote ancient times. There is also a display of the artistic styles of the painted pottery, bronze ware, lacquerware and frescos of China's early periods. The colours of the stamps appear solemn as well as harmonious. With golden and silvery colours applied, it adds to the mystical and solemn tone of the stamps. As regard to the depiction of characters, movements of the characters are vividly brought out with simple and plain lines. The words on the stamps are in seal characters, which respond to the simple and unsophisticated pictures and reflect the strong national flavor. As regard to the painting technique, the designer adopted the traditional Chinese painting style, but also made reference to the modern artistic styles. The images of the characters are aptly exaggerated. The stamps have quite strong decorative effect and rhythm.

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