Stamps of 2023: Myanmar (January 2023)

Jan. 5, 2023

Independence of Myanmar (75th Anniversary)

On January 4, 2023, Myanmar Post issued a stamp to commemorate 75th anniversary of Independence. The stamp design depicts the white elephant named Rattha Nandaka. The male elephant was born at 6:30 am on July 23, 2022, by a 33-year-old female elephant called Zar Nan Hla at the Myanma Timber Enterprise in Taungup Township of Rakhine State. The baby elephant was two feet and five inches in height, three feet and one inch in girth and weighed 180 pounds at birth.

Named Rattha Nandaka, the newly-born white elephant had pearl-colored eyes, a plantain branch-shaped back, white hair, a distinctive tail, auspicious plot signs on the skin, reddish-brown or pinkish skin, five claws on the front legs, four claws on the back legs and big ears. These features conform to seven out of eight characteristics of a white elephant. “Rattha Nandaka” comes from the ancient Pali words for “country” and “happiness.” During yesterday’s Independence Day celebrations, the birth of the white elephant was portrayed by junta-controlled media in Myanmar as fortuitous.

Rattha Nandaka in a press photo released by the Government of Myanmar on August 5, 2023

Ancient rulers regarded white elephants as extremely auspicious, and their appearance was taken as a symbol of righteous political power. In addition to being featured on the new stamp, a set of gold commemorative coins bearing the animal’s image was also minted for the occasion.

Independence Day (လွတ်လပ်ရေးနေ့) is observed annually in Myanmar every January 4 to celebrate Myanmar’s Declaration of Independence from British rule on January 4, 1948. In the 19th century, following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, Burma was colonized by Britain. On April 1, 1937, Burma became a separately administered colony of Great Britain and Ba Maw became the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma. Ba Maw was an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule and he opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislative Assembly and was arrested for sedition. In 1940, before Japan formally entered the Second World War, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.

Myanmar regime chief Min Aung Hlaing stands in a car as he oversees a military display at a parade ground to mark the country’s Independence Day in Naypyitaw on January 4, 2023. Myanmar’s junta announced an amnesty for 7,000 prisoners to mark Independence Day on January 4 following a show of force in the capital, days after increasing democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi’s jail term to 33 years. AFP via Getty Images

A major battleground, Burma was devastated during the Second World War. By March 1942, within months after they entered the war, Japanese troops had advanced on Rangoon and the British administration had collapsed. A Burmese Executive Administration headed by Ba Maw was established by the Japanese in August 1942. Beginning in late 1944, allied troops launched a series of offensives that led to the end of Japanese rule in July 1945. However, the battles were intense with much of Burma laid waste by the fighting.

Although many Burmese fought initially for the Japanese, some Burmese, mostly from the ethnic minorities, also served in the British Burma Army. The Burma National Army and the Arakan National Army fought with the Japanese from 1942–44, but switched allegiance to the Allied side in 1945.

Following World War II, General Aung San negotiated the Panglong Agreement with ethnic leaders that guaranteed the independence of Burma as a unified state. In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals backed by the British assassinated Genaral Aung San and several cabinet members.

Stone Pillar of Independence Myanmar. Left is Sule Pagoda and behind is Yangon City Hall. Photo by Maung Maung San on December 30, 2011.

On January 4, 1948, at 4.20 am, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma in which the time was chosen for its auspiciousness by an astrologer, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies and overseas territories, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth.

In 1988, unrest over economic mismanagement and political oppression by the government led to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations throughout the country known as the 8888 Uprising. Security forces killed thousands of demonstrators, and General Saw Maung staged a coup d’état and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In 1989, SLORC declared martial law after widespread protests. The military government finalized plans for People’s Assembly elections on May 31, 1989. SLORC changed the country’s official English name from the “Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma” to the “Union of Myanmar” on June 18, 1989, by enacting the adaptation of the expression law.

Technical Details of Stamps

Date of Issue: 4 January 2023
Printer: Security Printing Works (Myanmar)
Printing Process: Offset Lithography
Stamp Size and Format: 42 mm x 30 mm (Horizontal)
Colors: 4
Perforation: 14
Denomination: K200
Sheet Composition: 50 Stamps per Sheet
Quantity: 300,000 pieces
Stamp Designers: Myanmar Post

Jan. 19, 2023

Burmese Bush Lark

On January 19, 2023, Myanmar will release the fourth stamp in it’s nine-stamp series of Endemic Birds of Myanmar which began on October 9, 2022, with a stamp portraying the White Throated Babbler. This time, it’s the Burmese bush lark (Mirafra microptera) receiving the 200-kyat postal honor.

The Burmese bush lark is a species of lark in the family Alaudidae found in Southeast Asia. The bird was formerly considered as a subspecies of the Bengal bush lark until split following work published by Per Alström. Although the global population of the Burmese bush lark has not yet been quantified, it is believed to be locally numerous within its sizable range in central Myanmar, where it is endemic, and is estimated to have an extent of occurrence of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 km2. The Burmese bush lark is a common denizen of a variety of habitats, including grasslands, fallow farm fields, sandy areas, and arable land, especially those with some trees and shrubs.

One thought on “Stamps of 2023: Myanmar (January 2023)

  1. Pingback: Stamps of 2023: Monthly Wrap-Up (January) | Mark Joseph Jochim

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