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Qu Yuan
Supporting Information   
Stamp Title: Qu Yuan
Serial Number: 2018-15
Value in Set: 2+1
Denomination: 8.4 yuan
Date of Issue: 2018-06-18
Designer: Li Yunzhong
Size of Stamp: 38×50mm
Perforation: 13×13.5
Sheet Composition: 12 for Layout Ⅰ and 6 for Layout Ⅱ
Printer: Beijing Stamp Printing House
Printing Process: Heliographic printing

China Post issued a set of two special stamps featuring Qu Yuan, namely Sorrow Song Li Sao and Questions to Heaven, as well as a souvenir sheet on June 18, 2018.

Qu Yuan (B.C. 340–B.C. 278), an important statesman in the state of Chu during the Warring States Period (B.C. 453- B.C. 221 ) of ancient China, was a descendant of Qu Xia, son of King Wu of Chu Xiong Tong.

Qu, trusted by King Huai of Chu (reigned B.C. 328–B.C. 299) in his early years, served as left minister  and also managed the domestic and diplomatic affairs. He advocated that the state should select domestic talents and give them the right posts, and develop policies that make the government honest and enlightened, and that implement outward unites the state of Qi to resist the state of Qin.

However, Qu was exiled to the northern Han and Yuan Xiang rivers for he was slandered and squeezed out by the aristocrats. In B.C. 278 (21 years after the Chu Emperor Qingxiang's reign), Bai Qi, a general of the state of Qin, conquered the Ying Du (today's Jiangling County, central China's Hubei Province), capital of Chu. Qu was so grieved that he committed suicide by wading into the Miluo River by weighing himself down holding a rock.

Qu was a great patriotic poet, known as "the ancestor of Chinese poetry" and "the ancestor of Ci Fu." His main works include Li Sao (literally: Encountering Sorrow), Jiu Ge (literally: Nine Songs), Jiu Zhang (Nine Pieces), and Heavenly Questions. He is the founder and representative writer of the poems of the Chu Ci anthology (also known as The Songs of the South or Songs of Chu), a volume of poems attributed to or considered to be inspired by his verse writing. This volume demonstrates that Chinese poetry had entered a new era from collective singing to individual creation. Chu Ci and Shi Jing (The Classic of Poetry) are the two greatest collections of ancient Chinese poetry and have had a profound impact on later poetry.

For thousands of years, Qu's spirit and personality have constantly served as an inspiration to the Chinese people. Today, people still eat zongzi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) and participate in dragon boat races to commemorate Qu's sacrifice on the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar.

Qu was identified by the World Peace Council as one of the four cultural celebrities in the world in 1953 and China Post also issued a set of commemorative stamps called "Four World Cultural Celebrities" that year.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival and its legends, which mainly commemorate the poet Qu, to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

This set of stamps has been created with traditional Chinese painting techniques. In the stamp Sorrow Song Li Sao, Qu sits beside a writing desk with a pen in hand, and looks sad after being slandered by enemies and rejected by King Huai of Chu, and creates Li Sao with a heavy heart. The background shows orchid plants, a dragon, a phoenix and other elements that were mentioned in Li Sao.

In the stamp Questions to Heaven, Qu looks up at the sky with one hand pointing at heaven. He stands in the wind and high waves slap against the cliff. Qu wrote his Heavenly Questions after his exile from the royal court of Chu. The background of the stamp features the cosmos as it appears in the opening of the Heavenly Questions. It reflects the spiritual activity of Qu in exploring his political ideals while doubting and questioning the boundary between heaven and human beings as well as the change between ancient and modern times.

In the souvenir sheet, Qu presents a bamboo slip with both hands and steps forward, which makes him appear as a court official who cares deeply about his country. The rolling waves in the background presage Qu's ending as he committed suicide by drowning himself in a river, expressing the immortality of Qu's spirit and people's memory of him.

This set of stamps was designed by Li Yunzhong, a young Inner Mongolian painter, and was printed by the Beijing Stamp Printing House using a heliographic printing process.

Offer for sale: This set of stamps is available at designated postal outlets, the online philatelic shop of China Post (http://jiyou.11185.cn), China Philately mobile client and the China Philately Wechat Mall since they were issued on June 18, 2018. This set of stamps will be sold for six months.

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