Australia Post | Stamp Collectibles

08 January 2020

Lunar New Year — Year of the Rat

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (set of three gummed stamps), 8 January 2020. All stamps from Australia Post, unless otherwise noted.

Technical specifications
Issue date: 8-January-2020
Issue withdrawal date: 31-December-2020
Denomination: $1.10 x 1, $3.30 x 1, $2.50 x 1
Stamp design: Yan Lin
Product design: Sonia Young, Australia Post Design Studio
Paper: gummed Tullis Russell Red Phos.
Paper: self-adhesive Tullis Russell 100GM
Printer: RA Printing
Printing process: Offset lithography
Stamp size (mm): 35 x 35
Minisheet size (mm): 170 x 80 (Rhombus perf.)
Zodiac sheet size (mm): 170 x 210 (Rhombus perf.)
Calendar sheet size (mm): 170 diameter
Calendar sheet stamp size (mm): 26 x 25.5
Perforations: 14.28 x 14.28
Sheet layout: Module of 50 (UV emboss, design for $1.10)
FDI Postmark: Christmas Island WA 6798
FDI withdrawal date: 5-February-2020

Overview
Lunar New Year, also called the Spring Festival in China, is the most important of the traditional festivals celebrated by Asian cultures throughout the world, including on Christmas Island. New Year celebrations centre on the family. Incense is burned for ancestors; special food is prepared. Friends visit each other with presents, and cards are exchanged. Gifts of money wrapped in lucky red paper envelopes are distributed.

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, 2020 is the Year of the Rat. The first sign in the Chinese zodiac, the clever and quick-witted Rat is considered a symbol of good luck and wealth.

In 2020, the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle begins again and so too does our Lunar New Year stamp series. The striking illustrations for the Year of the Rat stamp issue are by Yan Lin, a visual designer based in Sydney. The three stamps in this issue present the Rat as characters from traditional Peking Opera, which has its origins in the mid-Qing dynasty (1636–1912). The characters perform spectacular vocals, mime, dance and acrobatics in beautiful, ornate costumes. The stamps present the principal male role (sheng), the comedy role (chou) and the female role (dan). Performances often take place during Chinese New Year.

$1.10 – Year of the Rat, Sheng
The sheng, or principal male role in Peking Opera, has numerous subtypes, including the laosheng (dignified older man), hongsheng (red-faced older man), xiaosheng (young male) and wusheng (combat roles, including the Monkey King).

$3.30 – Year of the Rat, Chou
Chou is a male comedic role. Chou characters include civilian roles such as merchants and jailers as well as minor military roles. The civilian wuchou role is one of the most demanding because of its combination of comic acting, acrobatics and a strong voice. Chou characters wear special face paint that includes a small patch of white chalk around the nose. The chou character often uses drums, a clapper, small gong and cymbals during the performance.

$2.50 – Year of the Rat, Dan
The dan, or female, role was originally divided into five subtypes. Old women were laodan; martial women were wudan; young female warriors were daomadan; virtuous and elite women were qingyi; and vivacious and unmarried women were huadan. A sixth type, the huashan, was introduced by the famous opera artist Mei Lanfang (1894–1961) and was a combination of the qingyi and huadan.


Article: “Designing for the Year of the Rat” — published 6 January 2020

Australia: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (miniature sheet), 8 January 2020 and designer Yan Lin.

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, 2020 is the Year of the Rat – the first animal sign of the Chinese zodiac. Those born in the Year of the Rat are known as being quick-witted, resourceful, versatile and smart. Possessing strong intuition, they easily adapt themselves to a new environment. A rich imagination and keen sense of observation also help the Rat take advantage of opportunities, which is why it finished first in the Jade Emperor’s zodiac race, on the back of the strong Ox.

To mark Lunar New Year, we are releasing the Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue, designed by Yan Lin.

Yan is a freelance designer with a Bachelor of Design in visual communication from the University of Technology, Sydney. Yan’s creative streak is long-standing.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved to immerse myself in creativity, art, craft, drawing and building things; those are the moments when I feel most grounded. To me, design has at all times been a source of inspiration, a way to express and channel my thought,” says Yan.

Yan was born in Fujian, China, and raised and educated in Sydney, Australia. During early childhood, Yan was living in the “idyllic” countryside of Chang Le, a district located in the central part along the southeast coastline of Fujian Province.

“We used to live in a siheyuan (四合院 sìhéyuàn) – a historical Chinese type of residence with wooden doors and traditional carving designs. The name refers to a courtyard surrounded by buildings with entrances on all four sides. It reflects the concept of many generations living under one roof,” explains Yan.

“When Lunar New Year approached, we would decorate the doors and windows with red lanterns and red couplets, many of which were written by my great-uncle. Large round tables were set up and placed in the centre of the courtyard for the big annual family reunion dinner. Since we lived near the coast, seafood was our main source of food. Having a fish dish at our dinner was essential, as it symbolises ‘surplus’ for the forthcoming year,” says Yan.

“After dinner, the whole family would gather outside the siheyuan to set off firecrackers. As a kid and for many children, we were also given small firecrackers and sparklers to light and run around the courtyard,” recalls Yan.

When considering the design brief for the Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue, Yan was conscious to produce a design that would resonate with Australian and Chinese audiences, focusing on the ancient art genre, Peking Opera.

“For over two centuries, Peking Opera (京剧 jīng jù) has been one of the fundamental expressions of Chinese culture,” notes Yan.

“One of the activities that is enjoyed by many people during the Lunar New Year is to watch Peking Opera performances. It is a form of storytelling that features melodious singing or rhythmical speaking, reciting, acting and martial arts. The costumes are flamboyant, elegant and beautiful. The facial makeup is exaggerated, using symbols, colours and patterns to depict characters’ personalities and social identities,” explains Yan.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (Zodiac sheet), 8 January 2020. Image from GULFMANN STAMPS WORLD BLOG.

For the Year of the Rat 2020 stamp designs, Yan introduced three of the five main unique characters from Peking Opera: Sheng (生 shēng) the male role, Chou (丑 chǒu) the comedy role and Dan (旦 dàn) the female role.

“The Rats in the stamp designs are personified characters, dressed in extravagant costumes and headpieces, ready to perform on the stage, with the other twelve zodiac animals featured on the zodiac stamp sheetlet. Having human-like features allows the audience to easily recognise them and form an emotional connection,” says Yan.

“Each of the Rat characters is designed with distinct Year of the Rat symbolism, in terms of both colour and decoration. For instance, Sheng (生 shēng) is represented by China blue with complementary colours of jade green, Chinese vibrant red and gold. It wears a traditional hat with two wings that extend out to each side of the ears indicating his identity, and with the symbol of prosperity (禄 lù) illustrated across his hat and robe. Chou (丑 chǒu) is depicted in jade green, holding a gold ingot or sycee (元宝 yuán bǎo) to express wealth and good fortune. The symbol of ancient Chinese coins is also illustrated throughout the headpiece and the robe. Dan (旦 dàn) wears an elaborate jewelled ornamental headpiece, together with lily flower patterns designed on her fan and robe,” explains Yan.

“For the sheetlet, I’ve tried to add some whimsical elements to appeal to the current generation, while at the same time preserving the traditional elements of Lunar New Year,” says Yan.

A design element used throughout the design is Chinese jade (yù), which in Chinese culture represents goodness, preciousness and beauty.

“Jade reflects status, purity and intelligence. The colour of jade depicts loyalty, while its imperfections reflect sincerity, since green is also the lucky colour for the Year of Rat in 2020,” says Yan.

Yan was thrilled to be involved in this latest Lunar New Year stamp issue for Australia Post.

“Becoming involved in stamp design was a highlight of 2019 and provided a real sense of satisfaction. I now find myself paying extra attention to stamp designs; the beauty and diversity of stamps,” says Yan.

One of the challenges for Yan, as for other stamp designers, is how to communicate an intricate story in a very small space.

“How do you effectively deliver a clear message within such a tiny, tiny, tiny amount of space while maintaining visual appeal? Working within the small, perforated perimeters was the biggest challenge I faced in this project. Nonetheless, it was an eye-opening experience and a joyful one, and I very much appreciated the ongoing support of the philatelic team at Australia Post,” says Yan.

The Christmas Island Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue is available from 8 January 2020, online, at participating Post Offices and via mail order on 1800 331 794 (+61 3 9887 0033 from overseas), while stocks last.

View the gallery and technical details for this issue.

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.


Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (mini-sheet), 8 January 2020.

The Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 minisheet consists of the three stamps from the issue incorporated into a miniature stamp sheet.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (Zodiac sheetlet), 8 January 2020.

The Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 zodiac sheetlet consists of the issue minisheet in the top section and a block of 12 stamps, only available in the format, in the bottom.

The representations of the Rat and other animals of the Chinese zodiac are based on characters depicting three of the four roles from traditional Peking Opera.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (Calendar sheetlet pack), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (Calendar sheetlet), 8 January 2020.

The Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 Calendar sheetlet pack contains the round Lotus sheetlet, that contains the 12 stamps from the zodiac sheet, and round stamp. All stamps are self-adhesive. Presented in high quality folder.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (self-adhesive booklet $2.50 international stamps), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (booklet pane of 5 self-adhesive $2.50 international stamps), 8 January 2020.

This sheetlet contains 5 x $2.50 self-adhesive international stamps from the Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue in a convenient wallet sized booklet.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (chequebook), 8 January 2020.

This chequebook contains 20 booklets of 5 x $2.50 self-adhesive international stamps from the Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (gummed stamps first day cover), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (mini-sheet first day cover), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (Zodiac sheetlet first day covers), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (postcard), 8 January 2020.

This prepaid postcard, from the Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue, features an illustration of a rat featured on the stamps. Postcards are a great way to keep in contact with family and friends.

Prepaid postcards can be posted from any red post box located in Australia or at your local Australia Post retail outlet and can be sent worldwide or to domestic locations.

No stamp is required as the prepaid postcard includes postage, making it easier for you to stay in touch.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (international postage-paid DL envelope), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (postage-paid DL envelope), 8 January 2020.
Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (prestige pack), 8 January 2020.

This prestige booklet from the Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue contains unique stamp configurations only found in this book, along with in-depth information on the issue.

The booklet contains stamps to the value of $29.20.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (gold “888” mini-sheet), 8 January 2020.

The Year of the Rat 2020 gold ‘888’ minisheet is limited to just 888

The minisheet features a beautiful, graphic rendition of “888”, with smaller versions of the Year of the Rat stamps forming part of each figure 8. The 888 gold minisheet comes in an attractive pack.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (gold mini-sheet in stand), 8 January 2020.

Featuring a 99.99% pure gold this minisheet is a gold replica of the minisheet released as part of the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat stamp issue.

Delivered in a clear perspex presentation mount.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (stamp pack), 8 January 2020.

The Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp pack contains the minisheet from the stamp issue presented in high quality folder.

Christmas Island-China Joint Year of the Rat Stamp Pack, 8 January 2020.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (medallion in card), 8 January 2020.

The Lunar New Year Rat 2020 medallion in card, shows an illustration of a rat on the front and a Year of the Rat 2020 on the reverse.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (medallion collection), 8 January 2020.

This limited-edition boxed set of consists of 12 medallions and a Lotus stamp sheet of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (stamp and medallion cover), 8 January 2020.

This stamp and medallion cover is very limited collectable, featuring a pictorial envelope with the $1.10 stamp from the Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue and related medallion. The stamp is postmarked – First day of issue | 8 January 2020 | Christmas Island WA 6798

Limited to 3,000.

Medallion details
Metal: Zinc Alloy
Weight: 57g
Diameter: 61mm
Thickness: 4.1mm
Finish: Gold plated

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (dragon postal-numismatic cover), 8 January 2020.

The Dragon postal numismatic cover is highly collectable, featuring a pictorial envelope with two stamps from the Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue and a coin from the Perth Mint. The stamps are postmarked – First day of issue | 8 January 2020 | Christmas Island WA 6978

PNC Issue: 2020 Issue 02, limited to 8,888

Coin details
PNC issue date: 2020
Mint: The Perth Mint
Denomination: $1 (TVD)
Weight: 13.5g
Diameter: 30.6mm
Finish: Uncirculated

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (dragon postal numismatic cover), 8 January 2020.

The Year of the Rat 2020 postal numismatic cover is highly collectable, featuring a pictorial envelope with two stamps from the Christmas Island Year of the Rat 2020 stamp issue and a coin from The Perth Mint. The stamps are postmarked – First day of issue | 8 January 2020 | Christmas Island WA 6798

PNC Issue: 2020 Issue 01, limited to 9,000

Coin details
Issue date: 2020
Mint: The Perth Mint
Denomination: $1
Weight: 13.5g
Diameter: 30.6mm
Finish: Uncirculated

Christmas Island: Lunar New Year – Year of the Rat (gutter strips), 8 January 2020.


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