Friday, September 21, 2012

Legends and Myths X – The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid

The legend “The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid” is a millenniums-old story from China. It originated in the worship of the stars. It is the result of the people’s deification and personification of the stars Altair and Vega.

The earliest version of the legend “The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid” was seen in the book of “Shi Jing” (Poetry Book). During the Han Dynasty, people began to unite the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid by marriage. After being handed down and circulated for generations, it eventually became a beautiful fairy tale.

The stamp issue “Legends and Myths X - The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid’, designed by Lio Man Cheong, an artist from Macao, includes six stamps and one souvenir sheet with seven themes, which are as follows:

Treating the Ox: The Cowherd was originally a diligent and smart cowherd on earth. After the death of his parents, his elder brother and his sister-in -law divide up the family property with him and they live apart, giving the cowherd only a sick old ox. Surprisingly, after the cowherd’s capable medical treatment, the ox turns out to be extremely clever and from then on, they depend on each other to make a living.

Stealing the Weaver’s Clothes: The Weaving Maid was originally a fairy girl. She was a celestial beauty and talented in the art of weaving. One day, she and her sisters descend upon earth to have a bath. The cowherd is overjoyed with this news and steals her clothes under the advice of the clever ox. The Weaving Maid is unable to go hack to heaven on time and agrees to stay with the cowherd.

The Cowherd Farms and the Weaver Weaves: The Weaving Maid happily marries the cowherd and lives on earth. They live together and remain deeply in love. They own a few acres of farmlands and an ox and raise a son and a daughter. They love each other and live a carefree life, sharing the daily chores, with the husband taking care of the farming, while the wife is responsible for the weaving. They both build a happy family.

The Weaver is caught: The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid happily live their mortal lives on earth. She is unwilling to remain a fairy girl and almost forgets about her original home. Of course, good things never last forever: the heavenly Emperor is very angry when she finds out that the Weaving Maid and the Cowherd have gotten married.
He sends soldiers from heaven to go down to earth and catch the fairy girl. The Weaving Maid is forced to go back to heaven and the happy family is torn apart.

Separated by the Milky Way: The Cowherd is very upset when he sees his wife being arrested. He listens to his dying old ox, who tells him that if he puts his skin on, he can fly up to heaven. Then, he picks up his son and daughter and they fly off into the sky. Unfortunately, they are blocked by the Milky Way, which the Heavenly Empress creates from a gold hairpin, thus separating the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid.

The Gods are Touched: The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid are separated by the Milky Way and weep for one another. All of heaven is moved by the sound of their sorrow and the heavenly Emperor is eventually also touched.
He allows the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid to meet each other once a year on Magpie Bridge in the Milky Way on the Qixi Festival: it falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

Meeting on the Magpie Bridge: Although the Weaving Maid can meet the Cowherd during the Qixi Festival, the question of how to cross the Milky Way remains. Luckily, a group of magpies with black feathers, bald heads and long tails comes along, willing to be the messengers of the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid in the Milky Way. They form a “bridge” (known in folklore as the “Magpie Bridge”) in the Milky Way, allowing the Cowherd and Weaving Maid to meet each other. The moving story of “Meeting on the Magpie Bridge” is widespread in Chinese folklore.

Author: Chan Su Weng
Translation: Next Vector Consultants Ltd.

The Stamps:
The Sheetlet:
The Souvenir Sheet:
The FDC with Stamps:
The FDC with Souvenir Sheet:
The Post Mark:
Dados Técnicos/Technical Data
Valor dos Selos/Stamps Value: stamps of 1.50, 1.50, 2.00, 2.00, 2.50 and 2.50 Patacas
Folhas Miniatura com duas séries/Minisheets with two sets
Valor do Bloco/Souvenir Sheet Value: 10.00 Patacas
Desenho/Design: Lio Man Cheong
Data emissão/Issue date: 23.08.2012
Impressor/Printer: Joh. Enschedé Security Print, Netherlands
Impressão/Print: Offset Lithography
Papel/Paper: Paper with Security Fibers
Picotagem/Perforation: 14 x 13¼

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