Miniature Art – A Rat’s Tale

March 3, 2008 at 10:18 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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I have always been a garbage collector…not gara guni lah….:p I mean, I have always been a collector of all sorts of stuff, but hor most are quite useless if not worthless in terms of dollar and cents. :p So what do I collect? Hmmm, since young, my collection ranges from erasers (which ended up sticking onto one another if not on rulers), stickers (which ended up non-sticky), bookmarks (which ended up not between pages of books cos I realised I dun read that many books…:p ), kawaii letterpad and envelope sets and of cos my latest and most obsessive collection of everything and anything turtle related. I have since given up collecting many item, but there is one thing that I have been collecting even until now, and that is the postage stamp.

In this age of Internet, Instant Messaging, Facebook Super-poking, SMS and MSM, few people still rely on writing for communication, other than companies, banks or government bodies that still send out letters and more often than not, invoices or bills. Most of the time, they chose franked mails over the manually pasting of stamps. Fortunately, this has not meant the end of the postage stamps. Thanks to the many collectors, the postage stamps survive till today to meet demands both for its monetary as well as artistic values. For me, I collect stamps that are beautifully designed or illustrated, as well as special themed ones like, well, you guessed it, turtle stamps. 😀

This year is the Year of Rat, and having recently visited the Singapore Philatelic Museum, we shall look at some of the interesting tales of the rats through these beautiful miniature art.

cat mouse
Wonder why cats chase rats?

According the Chinese Zodiac legend, the Jade Emperor held a race for all animals. The first twelve animals to finish the race will get a year named after them in the order of their arrival. Being good friends, the Cat asked the Rat to wake him up on the day of the race in case he overslept. But the Rat forgot to do so and being small and agile, he ended up first in the race. When the Cat woke up and realised he missed the race he got angry with the Rat. Having found out the Rat won the race, he got even angrier and vow to kill the Rat if he sees him again. So this is how the Rat ended up being the first animal in the Zodiac cycle.

1st rat
The first Rat Zodiac Stamp were produced by Japan and South Korea respectively
in December, 1959. Notice the bride and groom? Read on…

Do you know that on the third day of Chinese New Year, we are supposed to sleep early? Well, not because many of us have to go back to slog at work after two days of eat, drink and make merry. :p According to Chinese legend, one year on the third day of the Chinese New Year, this family with an old guard tower in their yard, heard sounds coming from the tower exactly midnight. They went to check it out, and saw, to their amusement, a marriage procession of rats!

There were musicians…

…palanquin bearers, a sedan with a rat bride and a rat groom on horse back!

Having being discovered, the rats quickly disappeared into a small hole in the tower. Soon, a priest warned the family that their tower may be haunted. Scared and worried, they agreed to let him perform an exorcism ritual. Unfortunately, when they went up to the tower again, all that rats were dead.

Words soon spread and people realised that something needed to be done for the rats. They began to turn in early on the night before the third day of the Chinese New Year so that the rats will be undisturbed. They also laid offerings like candies for the rats. Today, this custom is still practiced in parts of China.

A postcard from China

Even a West African country like Ghana has heard of the rats’ wedding tale!
How come I have never heard of it before?!

A procession for hundred years of great marriage…

Another rat wedding from Canada

The first odd-shaped Zodiac stamp celebrating the Year of the
Rat in 1996 was from Cuba.

Besides folks tales, stamps also reflect culture and are often educational.

Auspicious animal in Japan

Different kinds of the rodant family from Czech Republic

The Tales of Beatrix Potter, famous for her children book on animals

Mickey in his early days


Mickey and Minnie courtship in stone age

I like this german rat illustration

An oriental rat with a modern touch

Another cute rat with Frosty

These are just some of the rat stamps on show. There are also interesting snippets on rats that you can picked up. Worth a visit for stamp lovers! On till September 2008 at the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

Also see related posts:
> Primary Colours – Feng Zhengjie
> Greek Masterpieces From the Lourve
> House of Wax – Hong Kong Trip #3
> RATS! They Are Everywhere!


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