Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom (2004)
China

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The site includes archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, 14 tombs are imperial, 26 of nobles. All belong to the Koguryo culture, named after the dynasty that ruled over parts of northern China and the northern half of the Korean Peninsula from 37 BC to 668 AD. Wunu Mountain City is only partly excavated. Guonei City, within the modern city of Jian, played the role of a supporting capital after the main Koguryo capital moved to Pyongyang. Wandu Mountain City, one of the capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom, contains many vestiges including a large palace and 37 tombs. Some of the tombs have elaborate ceilings, designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound) which was placed above them. 

Unfortunately, the cities and tombs have not been described on Chinese postage stamps, but the Koguryo Kingdom has been immortalized through the novel by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms". This novel is part of the cultural legacy of this period of China's history. It is a Chinese historical novel about the turbulent period often referred to as the Three Kingdoms (220-280), and is acclaimed as one of the Four Classical Novels of Chinese Literature. 

China 1998. Souvenir sheet. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

China 1988. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #1 of four. China 1988. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #2 of four. China 1988. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #3 of four. China 1988. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #4 of four.
China 1990. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #1 of four. China 1990. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #2 of four. China 1990. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #3 of four. China 1990. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #4 of four.

China 1988. Souvenir sheet. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

China 1994. Souvenir sheet. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

China 1992. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #1 of four. China 1992. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #2 of four. China 1992. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #3 of four. China 1992. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #4 of four.
China 1994. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #1 of four. China 1994. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #2 of four. China 1994. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #3 of four. China 1994. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Stamp #4 of four.

Stories from the Three Kingdoms period existed as oral traditions before any written compilations. In these popular stories, the characters typically took on exaggerated and mythical characteristics, often becoming immortals or supernatural beings with magical powers. With their focus on the history of Han Chinese, the stories grew in popularity during the reign of the foreign Mongol emperors of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279-1368). During the succeeding Ming Dynasty, an interest in plays and novels resulted in further expansions and retelling of the stories.

The earliest attempt to combine these stories into a written work was Sān Gu Zh Png Hu, published sometime between 1321 and 1323. This version combined themes of magic, myth, and morality to appeal to the peasant class. Elements of reincarnation and karma were woven into this version of the story. The decline of the Han Dynasty was thus traced to the sins of its founding emperor, Han Gao Zhu, who unjustly executed his three able generals Han Xin, Peng Yue, and Ying Bu  Hn Gāo Zǔ was later reborn as the last Hn emperor, Emperor Xian, while the three generals were reincarnated as rulers of the three kingdoms: Hn Xn became Cao Cao; Png Ye became Liu Bei; and Yīng B became Sun Quan. This time the emperor was to suffer at the hands of Cao Cao. 

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms as we know it today is attributed to Luo Guanzhong, written between 1330 and 1400 (late Yuan to early Ming period). It was written in plain Chinese and was considered the standard text for 300 years. Lu made use of available historical records, including the Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, compiled by Chen Shou. which covered events from the Yellow Turban Rebellion in AD 184 up to the unification of the three kingdoms under the Jin Dynasty in AD 280. Lu combined this historical knowledge with a gift for storytelling to create a rich tapestry of personalities.

The stamps are reproductions of contemporary paintings, and are printed in photogravure. 

Sources and links: 

Note
Mr. Charlie Park (USA) has informed me that this page's subtitle "China" should not be interpreted as if the ancient Koguryo Kingdom was part of China. At the time it was part of (present-day) Korea. 

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  
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