Hans Christian Andersen stamps by Denmark

September 2nd, 2013

Post Denmark issued a set of stamps representing a Danish-Chinese interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, as the design was elaborated by Chinese designers Yuan Yishan, Jiang Wei together with Danish colleagues Rasmus Berggreen and Jakob Monefeldt.

The DKK 6.00 stamp depicts the famous scene with the soldier standing at the top of the hollow tree, ready to let himself slide down to the three dogs with big eyes, all the while being watched by the ugly witch.

Of the four fairy tales, The Flying Trunk is perhaps the least well known among Chinese schoolchildren. The DKK 8.00 stamp features the merchant's son rising up in his magical suitcase. The Sweethearts, which also occasionally appears under the title Top and Ball, is an anthropomorphic fairy tale, i.e. inanimate objects become animate and display human emotions. Hans Christian Andersen is credited with "inventing" this kind of story as a genre, but the Chinese also have a tradition of stories that include anthropomorphic aspects. In this sense, Andersen's fairy tales have a kind of connection to the Chinese tradition. The Sweethearts features on the DKK 12.50 stamp.
The DKK 14.50 stamp depicts a scene from The Little Match Girl, another tale that is hugely popular in China. Its massive popularity is partly due to its tragic ending, in which the girl perishes from the cold. The story of the poor girl who has to wander barefoot in the dark, cold streets and doesn't dare go home has a strong appeal for Chinese people, many of whom have personal experience of the scourge of poverty. The tale reminds us how lucky we are if we have a warm home and a loving family. It's about the importance of appreciating each other in cold dark times.

The Chinese see themselves reflected in Hans Christian Andersen.

Unlike the Danes, who immediately recognize Andersen's distinctive profile, the Chinese do not have a clear picture of the author in their minds. On the other hand, they see parallels between themselves and the story of Andersen's life – of the mould-breaker who defiantly fought his way from poverty to fame and esteem. The quest for identity and recognition is deeply embedded in the soul of the Chinese people.

Andersen's Chinese name, "An-tu-sheng", means "the apostle of peace". In other words, to the Chinese, Andersen is a sort of apostle representing intelligence and wisdom. His works are of high quality and symbolize virtues such as truth, goodness and honesty. They also convey truths and wisdom about life, as well as a deep social understanding and empathy with children, qualities that encourage millions of Chinese readers to turn to them to this day.

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