The Great Wall (1987)
China

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In c. 220 B.C., under Qin Shi Huang, sections of earlier fortifications were joined together to form a united defence system against invasions from the north. 

Construction continued up to the Ming dynasty (13681644), when the Great Wall became the world's largest military structure. Its historic and strategic importance is matched only by its architectural significance. 

  • United Nations (New York) 1983. The Great Wall. 

The Great Wall - in Chinese Wanli Changcheng - is the only earthly construction that can be seen from the moon. It starts north of Beijing, and continues westward for around 6.700 km from the Yellow Sea through four provinces, two autonomous regions, into the Gobi Desert.  

It was built around 220 B.C. by Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Chinese emperor and the father of the empire. It is the same emperor's terracotta army (on this web site) that can be found in Xi'an.  

  • China 1996. The Great Wall of China, at the Jinshan Ridge. The stamps were printed se-tenant in a composite design. 

China 1996. The Great Wall at the Jinshan Ridge. Stamp #1 of two. China 1996. The Great Wall at the Jinshan Ridge. Stamp #2 of two.

The wall was built as fortification from the wild Mongol hordes in the north, and served at the same time as a very physical border line to the outside world. It ends in the neighborhood of Dunhuang, also a World Cultural Heritage Property (on this website) in the far north of China, where the Silk Road began, and from where the Buddhist faith was brought to China by Indian silk traders. A large number of stamps depicting the Great wall has been issued, some more interesting to look at than others. Below is a nice set of four and a souvenir sheet, depicting The Great Wall in the four seasons. 

China 1979. The Great Wall in Summer. China 1979. Souvenir Sheet. View of the Great Wall. China 1979. The Great Wall in Spring.
China 1979. The Great Wall in Autumn. China 1979. The Great Wall in Winter.

In 1966 Mao launched the political campaign known as the Cultural Revolution, during which he appealed to the Chinese people to destroy anything associated with traditional culture. Unappreciated for its historic value, the magnificent wall surrounding Beijing was torn down for quarrying during this period. Other wall ruins were also destroyed. 

St. Vincent of the Grenadines 1997. 50th Anniversary of UNESCO. The Great Wall of China.

With the end of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Mao in 1976, the political climate changed in China, evidenced in part by a rise in nationalism. In the years that followed, the myth of the Great Wall was officially propagated throughout the country. In the 1980s the Ming walls began to undergo extensive renovation at their most visited locations. In the 1990s, however, historians in both China and the West began to reestablish the actual history of Chinese wall building and to explore the development of the folklore surrounding the Ming walls. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in China (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section China for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 20 jun 2007  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus
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