Sika Deer on 1970 USSR tourism stamp

Sunday, November 8, 2009

in Animals

I’ve always loved the dramatic design of this 10 kopeks stamp issued in 1970 by the USSR. Using only two colours – a warm orange-brown for the two Sika Deer at the centre of the design and the surrounding border, and a cooler and darker sage green for the forest in which they inhabit – the image has the striking immediacy of a woodcut.

USSR postage stamp featuring Sika Deer - 1970

It was issued as part of a set of six stamps celebrating Tourism in the USSR which included many of the things one most associates with Russia – a performance of Swan Lake (6k); examples of folk art and in particular a Russian Doll (12k); the Cathedral of Vasily Blazhenny on Red Square (4k); the sculpture Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares which the Soviet Union gifted to the United Nations in 1959, as well as numerous museums (14k); and finally a woman photographer surrounded by Russian cars (16k).

Unfortunately, it turns out that my rather romantic view of this stamp as being a celebration of the beauty of Dybowski’s Sika Deer – the largest race of the Sika deer which is found in the cold northern climes of the Russian Far East – was out of place. Using the wonderful Internet resource of Google translate stamp collectors can now easily translate any foreign language text on stamps into their own language, which is how I discovered that this stamp actually commemorates Sika deer hunting! As someone who is opposed to all forms of animal hunting or killing for fun I’ve decide to post the image anyway as a tribute to these magnificent animals.

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