1996 32¢ The Year of the Rat
Chinese New Year
Issue Date: February 8, 1996
City: San Francisco, CA
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
This stamp marks 1996 as the Year of the Rat. It is the fourth installment in a series of stamps honoring the Chinese New Year, each created by artist Clarence Lee. Lee combines paper cut type designs with calligraphy to create stamps that look innovative, yet traditional.
According to the modified lunar calendar (lunar-solar), used in China and throughout the Orient, the new year’s date is 4694. Ancient legend states that Buddha felt the Chinese nation needed to be reorganized, so he called all of the animals in the land to a New Year’s meeting. Only 12 of the invited beasts came to the meeting, so Buddha decided to honor them.
Each animal was assigned a year in the order in which it arrived at the meeting – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Each of these animals is said to have certain inherent qualities. According to tradition, people born during an animal’s year are marked by its disposition and character.
Individuals born during the Year of the Rat are said to be: energetic, charming, meticulous, sociable, persistent, humorous, generous, honest, jolly, and even seductive. Many of these traits seem somewhat contradictory to the way most westerners think of rodents.