31 January 2020
Lunar New Year — Year of the Rat
Release date: 31.1.2020
Design: Teja Milavec
Motive: Year of the Rat
Print: Agencija za komercijalnu djelatnost d.o.o., Zagreb, Croatia
Technique: 4-colour offset in sheets of 25 stamps
Paper: Tullis Russell Chancellor Litho PVA RMS GUM, 102 g/m2
Perforation: Comb 14 : 14
Chinese Horoscope – Year of the Rat
The rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac. A number of explanations exist for this. The most famous are variants of stories in which the Jade Emperor classifies animals in the zodiac according to where they finish in a race. The ox was expected to win the race but the rat sat on his head, jumped off just before the finish line, and overtook him. Another explanation relates to traditional expressions for time, where the first unit denotes the time of day when rats are scurrying about (between 11 o’clock in the evening and 1 o’clock in the morning). A third explanation relates to the division of animals into yin and yang depending on how many toes they have. The rat is the only animal to combine an even number and an odd number, since it has four clawed toes on its forepaws and five on its hindpaws.
The year 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the first zodiac stamp issued by China Post. In our issue the first design shows a mouse looking up at the sky, which relates to a popular creation myth. According to this myth, a rat sank its teeth into the cosmic chaos, causing yin and yang to separate. As a result, Heaven and Earth were created, followed by human beings and everything else in creation. The second design shows a mouse family, emphasising the high reproductive rate of these creatures and expressing the wish for a happy, satisfied, rich and abundant 2020.
The words mouse and rat denote the same animal in the Chinese linguistic context, rather like sheep and goat. The rat is a positive creature that symbolises cleverness, inventiveness, flexibility, indestructibility and vitality.