Monday, June 27, 2016

Najaf - Iraq

In the world of postcards, a written & stamped card from Iraq is something very rare. I got this one thanks to Mohammed and thanks to Agata too, who let me know about Mohammed's offer on FB. 

The card shows Iman Ali Tomb, sheltered in Iman Ali Mosque in Najaf. Najaf is a city in central Iraq about 160 km (roughly 100 miles) south of Baghdad. It is widely considered the third holiest city of Shi'a Islam, the Shia world’s spiritual capital and the center of Shi'a political power in Iraq. - in: wikipedia

The gold-plated mosque shelters the tomb of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad who is revered as a martyr and a saint by Shi'ites. Najaf has been an important place of pilgrimage for Shi'ites since Ali's death in 661 AD.
In the course of the conflict, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, was killed at Najaf in 661. Ali was the Prophet's closest relative and the one whom the Shi'ites saw as the Prophet's true successor, and he is regarded as a great saint and martyr.
The tomb of Ali has been honored at Najaf since as early as 750 AD, although it is possible he is actually buried in Afghanistan. Najaf became an important place of pilgrimage and a center of Shi'a religious learning. 
The tomb of Imam Ali is said to have been discovered at Najaf around 750 AD by Dawood Bin Ali Al-Abbas. A shrine was built over the tomb by Azod Eddowleh in 977, but later burned down. It was rebuilt by the Seljuk Malek Shah in 1086, and rebuilt yet again by Ismail Shah, the Safawid, in about 1500. - in: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/iraq/najaf

Al-Diriyah - Saudi Arabia

If there was a prize for the best postcrosser, I'd nominate Claus. He proved to be a very nice person in many occasions and this last time he was even more than nice. A couple of months ago he tagged me on a 2 favorites tag but the cards never arrived. He resent the cards but for some inexplicable reason these ones didn't arrive either. I told him it was necessary to resend them once again but he insisted. This time he sent the envelope by registered mail and the cards finally arrived. He didn't have more copies of the cards he tagged me for but I'm more than happy with the cards he sent. This one is from a missing UNESCO site in Saudi Arabia "At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah" and the other one is a german tentative site. How nice of him is this?? Thank you so much!!

Al-Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the north-western outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818. 
Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian peninsula. 
The Turaif district in Diriyah was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

© By Najada
Saad bin Saud Palace is the biggest remaining Palace in Old Diriyyah today. It was renovated with careful study of the materials used when it was built originally. Diriyyah Palace is a true example of traditional architecture of Najd by using sun-dried mud-brick for walls and tamarisk beams for roofs. Its wooden doors are decorated with beautiful patterns, strengthened by heavy iron nails and bars. - in: http://www.splendidarabia.com/destinations/riyadh-province/old-diriyyah-palace/

Thursday, June 23, 2016

ID-169759

An official from Indonesia with some mythical creatures, known as Barong. These beasts protect the Balinese from evil spirits.

ID-169759, sent by Syifa.
Barong is a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia. He is the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders in the mythological traditions of Bali. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in Barong dance to represent the eternal battle between good and evil.
Barong animal mask dance, together with sanghyang dance are considered native Balinese dances.
Barong is portrayed as a lion with red head, covered in white thick fur, and wearing gilded jewelry adorned with pieces of mirrors.
The origins of the Barong are far a back in time and quite uncertain. Its origins could be from animist worship, before Hinduism appeared, when villagers still believed in the supernatural protective power of animals. - in: wikipedia

Wat Phra Kaew - Thailand

Two officials from Thailand, both showing the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok. The night view arrived a couple of weeks ago and the other card arrived in 2009, it was my 1st card from Thailand's capital.

Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade.
The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha image in the meditating position in the style of the Lanna school of the north, dating from the 15th century AD.

Jatuporn Rutnin - Photography
TH-223732, sent by Tavich.
Raised high on a series of platforms, no one is allowed near the Emerald Buddha except HM the King. A seasonal cloak, changed three times a year to correspond to the summer, winter, and rainy season covers the statue. A very important ritual, the changing of the robes is performed only by the King to bring good fortune to the country during each season. The temple of  Emerald Buddha is beautifully decorated and has a great sense of peace about it.

TH-26288, sent by Nhok.
The construction of the Temple of Emerald Buddha started when King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only elaborately decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas. The main building is the central 'ubosot' (ordination hall), which houses the Emerald Buddha. Even though it is small in size, it is the most important icon for Thai people. - in: http://www.bangkok.com/attraction-temple/wat-prakaeo.htm

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hirosaki Castle - Japan

Hirosaki Castle is a hirayama-style Japanese castle constructed in 1611, located in central Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture.

© Pin Up Co., Ltd
JP-390147, sent by Midori.
Hirosaki Castle was built in 1611 by the Tsugaru Clan. A three-story castle tower, fortified moats, castle gates and some corner turrets (yagura) survive or were reconstructed. The castle is located in Hirosaki Park, a spacious public park of about 0.6 square kilometers.
The castle's original five-story keep burnt down in 1627 after being struck by lightning. Rebuilt in 1810, the present three-story keep is the only one in the Tohoku Region that was not rebuilt in the modern era, amongst only a handful in all of Japan.

Copyright © 2001 Shigeru Kanehara
JP-790608, sent by Yuki.
Hirosaki Park is one of Japan's best cherry blossom spots. With its abundance of over 2500 trees, cherry blossom tunnels, petal filled moats, numerous pleasant picnic areas, rental rowing boats, many varieties of cherry trees and illuminations in the evenings, it feels like multiple great cherry blossom spots combined into a single one. A cherry blossom festival is held annually from April 23 to May 5, when the blossoms are usually in bloom. - in: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3700.html

CN-1932838

I had to ask for help to identify the local on this card. This beautiful snowy views is from Daming Lake Park in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province in Eastern China. 

Located in the center of Jinan City, Daming Lake Park is regarded as one of the three must-see spots in Jinan. The park is famous for Daming Lake (also known as the Lake of Great Light) which is a natural lake formed from many springs. Characteristically unique is its constant water level, unaffected by heavy rains or drought.

CN-1932838, sent by Yijia.
Daming Lake Park covers a total area of 860,000 square meters (about 212 acres) of which the lake itself comprises of 460,000 square meters (about 113 acres). The six islands in Daming Lake contain flowers, trees and other plants flourishing amongst the various pavilions. The lake is a center of activity and one can find fish leaping near yachts and boats. In summer, lotuses bloom uninhibitedly filling half of the park with its fragrant scent. At the same time, willows circle the lake on three sides and swing with the breeze, a scene for which Daming Lake is famous. The centerpiece of the lake is a great man-made hectometer fountain built in 1985. The fountain has 103 injectors, and the main injector can spout water as high as 100 meters (about 328 feet) in all its majesty. - in: https://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shandong/jinan/daming_lake.htm

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sri Lanka's tea

I drink tea almost everyday but I'm not picky about the quality, the flavors or the origins. One thing I know, tea is one of the main and famous products of Sri Lanka. 
The card was sent by Ara.

Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is the world's fourth-largest producer of tea and it employs, directly or indirectly, over 1 million people.
The humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall of the country's central highlands provide a climate that favors the production of high-quality tea. The industry was introduced to the country in 1867 by James Taylor, a British planter who arrived in 1852.

Photograph by Lasantha Lakmal
Directly and indirectly, over one million Sri Lankans are employed in the tea industry. A large proportion of the workforce is young women and the minimum working age is twelve. 
Girls typically follow their mothers, grandmothers and older sisters on the plantations, and the women are expected to perform most of the domestic duties.
In the plantation housing system, women and girls have no privacy from the male workers, which places them at a higher risk for sexual harassment.
The tea plantation is structured in a social hierarchy and the women, who often consist of 75%–85% of the work force in the industry, are at the lowest social strata and are powerless. 
Some concern towards women's rights have been made to the plantation workers in Sri Lanka, resulting in some 85 neighborhood women's groups being formed across the country, educating them in gender, leadership and preventing violence against women. - in: wikipedia