On January 5, a crowd of reporters,equipped with different kinds of cameras, packed in the over-one-thousand-square-meter White Jade Hall of the National Museum of China waiting for the issuance of the zodiac Rat stamps. At 9:30, the first-issue ceremony of the “Year of Gengzi” (the Year of Gengzi refers to the year of 2020, also known as the Year of Rat by the Chinese zodiac) special stamps officially began.With the special effects of gorgeous fireworks, the stamps with cute little ratswere finally unveiled. Being held in the Palace Museum last year, the first-issue ceremony of the zodiac special stamps entered the National Museum of China this year.
The "Year of Gengzi" special stamps are a set of 2 stamps. The first design of the stamps is named “The Rat Creates Heaven”, which is derived from the folklore “the rat bites open the sky”. Itfeatures a cute rat leaping high, biting through the chaos thus creating the universe. The second design is “ratsprelude a bumper year”, with 3 little joyful and complacent rats implying a happy family life.Thepainting adopts small freehand brushwork, combined with the rendering techniques of traditional Chinese painting,to showthe cuteness of the zodiac rat andherald the prosperity of the nation.The stamps are designed by the famous artist Han Meilin.
The event was broadcast live by Xinhua News Agency and on thekuaishou platform(an online video sharing platform).Nearly 200,000 people watched the event, participated in the interaction and the philatelic carnival.
Through the WeChat applet "Chinese philately and stamp encyclopedia", the WeChat official accounts zhongguoyouzheng(China Post) and zhongguojiyou (China philately), or scanning the "Year of Gengzi" zodiac stamps through Alipay, the cute rats immediately come to life, jumping on the phone screen. With AR and the animated videos, the stories of "the rat opens up the sky" and "rats prelude a bumper year" are vividly displayed, enhancing the effects of publicity. In addition, users can also take photos with the cute rats, send their best wishes with their DIY rat stamps, and participate in activities such as the wonderful zodiac museum. "Interesting concept" and "ingenious zodiac animal" become frequent words in the “bullet screen”.
According to Zhang Xiaodong, leader of the project and deputy dean of the School of Art & Design of Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication, the AR design of the first stampis based on the original stamp and uses the form of traditional Chinese landscape painting for creativity, with the whole picture in Chinese ink painting style echoing the picture of the stamp. At the beginning of the stamp animation, several flowing lines outline the shape of a rat on the stamp, representing the use of laser engraving technology for the first time in the plate-making of the Year of Gengzi stamps.Immediately afterwards, the static rat in the stamp turns dynamic, jumping on the clouds, symbolizing that everything will be on the up in the Year ofthe Rat, while the geometric figure “chaos”chased by the rat is composed of the five colors of black, white, yellow, blue and red, indicating the "five elements(metal, wood, fire, water and earth, held by the ancient Chinese to compose the physical universe)". Then, the rat bites through the chaos. The sun, the moon and the stars rise slowly to form the sky; the mountains and rivers fall gradually to form the earth. Finally, the last frame of animation rests on the shape of the rat in the stamp. The AR of the second stamp "rats prelude a bumper year” is created in accordance with the design concept of the original stamp and adopts the composition and margin leaving technique of the traditional Chinese flower-and-bird painting. At the beginning of the animation, a few grains pop up from the ground, with more and more grains accumulating into a barn. Presently a small rat emerges from behind the barn in a vivid and lively manner. Then a male rat appears at the top of the barn, representing a loving and hard-working father, on the right is a female rat representing a gentle and affectionate mother. Subsequently, the firecrackers set off on the plum branches, together with the fireworks in the foreground and lanterns in the background, appear to highlight the festive, lively atmosphere of the Spring Festival. The entire animation ends withfour Chinese characters “鼠兆丰年”meaning that rats prelude a bumper year, reflecting the theme of the stamp.
The award ceremony of the "Forty Years of Chinese Zodiac Stamps" creativity product design competition was held at the National Museum of China on the same day. As a new way of philatelic events, the competition has attracted widespread attention from all walks of life since it was officially launched on September 12, 2019. A total of 3,209 valid entries have been collected, including 2,326 entries in cultural and creative design and 883 entriesrelated to postal services. The online publicity was cumulatively exposed for nearly 20 million times, and 6 college publicity lectures were held offline. After online voting by public judges and comprehensive scoring by the judging committee, 2 first prize winners, 5 second prize winners, 7 third prize winners and 13 honorable mention prize winners were selected. At the same event, China Post "May 20· Rose" special stamp design competition was launched.