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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Use art to stamp your letters

The South African Post Office has released a series of stamps featuring artworks executed in traditional African beadwork.

These stamps will be in production for five years and feature items from the permanent collection of the Iziko South African National Gallery and the Iziko Social History Collections.

"The stamps portray culturally significant items over time in South African society," says Johan van Wyk, head of Philately at the South African Post Office. "They range from a traditional Tsonga fertility figure to a modern cellphone rendered in beadwork."

Photographed by Sasha Lipka, the stamps focus on detail rather than the whole item. "The small stamp format lent itself best to photographs focusing on selected details of a particular item, instead of images of entire items," says Van Wyk. To make the stamp values easily recognisable, each value is printed over a coloured square so that counter personnel could distinguish between the different values with ease.

"In South African culture, the art of glass beadwork is as valuable as figurative carving in other African societies," says Carol Kaufmann, curator at the South African National Gallery. "These stamps will spread awareness of these cultural treasures all over South Africa - and the rest of the world - at an affordable cost."

Apart from usual denominations such as a 50c stamp, the stamps are also available specially for international small letters and registered letters. Consumers can stock up on these stamps as they will remain valid postage for these postal articles even if postage were to rise in the future.