Aden - Kathiri State of Seiyun

Kathiri State Of Seiyun

LOCATION:  Hadhramaut region of Eastern Aden Protectorate
GOVERNMENT:  Sultanate

FIRST STAMPS: Aden, 1937-1942

12 fils = 1 anna, 16 annas = 1 rupee (1937-1951)
100 cents = 1 shilling (1951-1965)
1000 fils = 1 dinar (1965-1968)

The stamps of Aden Colony, as previously detailed, were valid throughout the Western and Eastern Protectorates and their various sultanates from their initial release in April 1937.  Two of the emirates in the eastern region of Hadhramaut objected to the portrait of King George VI on the stamps and began to release their own stamps in 1942.

The al-Kathiri dynasty once ruled much of the Hadhramaut region of the southern Arabian peninsula but their power was truncated by the rival Qu’aitis in the 19th century.  The Kathiris were eventually restricted to a small inland portion of Hadhramaut with their capital at Seiyun.  The sultanate entered into treaty relations with the British in 1882 and became a part of the Aden Protectorate

The post office at Seiyun was opened on 25 May 1937 and several smaller postal agencies soon followed.  Due to Sultan Ja’far bin Mansur al-Kathiri’s irritation over the royal monarch’s image on the Aden postage stamps, a set of eleven stamps inscribed “Kathiri State of Seiyun” were released in August 1942.  The three lowest values of these stamps – ½-anna, ¾a and 1a – featured a large portrait of the sultan while the remaining stamps pictured the mosques at Seiyun and Tarim, the large palace of the sultan built in the 1920s, and other local views all with a small portrait of the sultan located in the upper corner just as the British monarch had been.  The stamps of the Kathiri State of Seiyun were valid for use throughout Aden. 

Aden Map 1938

Al Husayn ibn Ali al-Kathiri became sultan in 1949, although his portrait didn’t appear on stamps until 1954.  In 1951, the currency on the stamps changed from Indian rupees to East African shillings. That year saw a number of the earlier stamps surcharged with the new currency values. 

The Kathiri State of Seiyun participated in three British Commonwealth omnibus issues – a pair of stamps marking the 25th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI, four commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union in 1949, and a single stamp honoring the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  The Silver Wedding and Coronation issues, of course, all featured images of the British monarchs.

The Kathiri State declined to join the Federation of South Arabia but remained under British protection as part of the Protectorate of South Arabia.  The final stamps of the Kathiri State of Seiyun were released on 1 July 1964.  In all, the sultanate had issued 42 stamps since 1942.  Starting in 1967, stamps inscribed “Kathiri State In Hadhramaut” began flooding the collector market, along with others from nearby individual emirates.  These aren’t listed in the Scott catalogue due to their lack of postal validity.

Sultan Husayn was overthrown on 2 October 1967, and the following month the former sultanate became part of newly independent South Yemen.

South Yemen united with North Yemen in 1990 to become the Republic of Yemen, but local sheiks in Yemen are reported to still wield large de facto authority.


I currently have two stamps in my collection from the Kathiri State in Seiyun.  Scott #12 and 13 were released on 15 October 1946 to mark the Allied victory in World War II.  They are both overprints of earlier issues – the 1½ anna in dark carmine rose (Scott #4) received a black overprint while the 2½a deep blue (Scott #6) was overprinted in red.  They, like most Kathiri stamps, are reasonably valued.  Only four high denominations are valued at US $10 or above with the most expensive being Scott #11, US $29 mint in my 2009 edition of Scott.  Used copies of Kathiri stamps generally bear Aden GPO or Aden Camp cancels.  Examples with cancellations from offices in the Eastern Protectorate command a premium.


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