Chinese American artist brings Lunar New Year heritage to life on stamps

Updated 2018-03-03 11:09:08 Xinhua

You may not be familiar with the name of the Chinese-American artist Kam Maki but you have probably seen his latest work - The Year of the Dog stamp sheetlet, which highlights and refreshes a lot of fond memories about Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.

Mak, who moved to New York with his parents from Hong Kong when he was 10 years old, has been commissioned by the U.S. Postal Services (USPS) to design the second set of Celebrating Chinese New Year stamp series since 2008.

The USPS' first set of 12 zodiac stamps was designed by Chinese-Hawaiian designer Clarence Lee and first introduced in 1993.


"I hope I showcase our culture, customs, and traditions well," Mak said in a recent interview with Xinhua. "(What) we want to really highlight is how beautiful our tradition is and the custom ... especially to people who don't really know about the Lunar New Year."

The Year of the Dog stamp, released by USPS early last month, continues Mak's concept of using the Lunar New Year symbols to highlight the customs and tradition of the Lunar New Year celebration.

The 56-year-old artist said he specifically chose three stalks of lucky bamboo to symbolize three types of good fortune: Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life).

"The bamboo stalks are artistically curving and twisting, which symbolizes life' s paths. Though the journey may be fraught with twists and turns, the budding leaves on top are always optimistically facing upwards to heaven."

"The red ribbon of fate floats throughout the middle," he said, "signifying joy and rebirth, entwining us together in peace and cooperation while anchoring us firmly to the earth."

On the right side of the design is a red square positioned on one point (diamond shape) with additional script characters "Fu" written on red paper, he said. The color red has been used to symbolize luck in Chinese culture. The word "Fu" stands for good fortune or happiness.

"Recalling my childhood in Hong Kong, my grandma would pay someone to write Fu and other couplets on red paper by hand, and she would post them around the house just before the New Year," he said.

The stamp also incorporates two elements from the previous series of Lunar New Year stamps -- Lee's intricate cut-paper design of a dog which Mak said had gained a great following.

"So I think this is a beautiful concept, incorporating the traditions, the customs and still have the animal there," he said.

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