Wednesday, December 10, 2008

1991 FFC KL-Beijing

1991 First Flight Cover - Kuala Lumpur to Beijing

"FFC KL-Beijing Front"

In 1991, a cover was issued to commemorate the first flight of Malaysia Airline ("MAS") first flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The flight was commenced on 31 March 1991.

As with most of the first flight cover, it illustrates the landmark structure in Beijing, the "Temple of Heaven". In Chinese we called it "天壇" or "天坛". This was a well-known tourism destination in Beijing and was included as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

But now, after the Beijing 2008 Olympic, perhaps the "Bird Nest" and "Water Cube" was more famous than Temple of Heaven.

"FFC KL-Beijing Back"

The back of the cover had an arrival cancellation from Beijing Post. The small print of the bottom of the cover contain information of the issuer and cover designer.

"FFC KL-Beijing Cancellation"

The first flight cancellation was very similar to the first flight cover from KL-Khoh Siong, which was issued in 1991 also (see my previous post regarding FFC to Khoh Siong).

"Temple of Heaven - front overview"

The Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing, in Xuanwu District. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.

The Temple of Heaven comprises of three building structure:

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) - the structure in the middle(as illustrated in the cover) is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 32 metres in diameter and 38 metres tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.

The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛) is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. It was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.

It was amazing how a structure from such ancient time illustrate the concept of ultimate beauty from the creator/god - "Symmetry". If you may have notice, the structure was symmetry (same in left and right if you look at it in the middle). The concept of symmetry was used by the creator in the creation of life. The form of human being, animal, snow flake to even individual cell, follows of golden rule of symmetry. A structure in perfect symmetry, now that's a beauty!!!

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