Engraver Creates Stamps, Popularizes Information About 'Small Illustrated Annals of China's History

September 23, 2019
By Fu DongyanEditor: Wei Xuanyi
Engraver Creates Stamps, Popularizes Information About 'Small Illustrated Annals of China's History
Dong Qi, who works for the Postage Stamp Printing Bureau, under the China Post Group Corporation (in Beijing), is one of two third-generation inheritors of the stamp-engraving craft. [For Women of China]

 

Postage stamps are miniature communication tools, which are part of the world's material heritage. Given the amount of work — and the high artistic and technical requirements — to cultivate stamp engravers, and given the fact that it takes many years to cultivate the engravers, the engravers are rare in China. Dong Qi, who works for the Postage Stamp Printing Bureau, under the China Post Group Corporation (in Beijing), is one of two third-generation inheritors of the stamp-engraving craft. "Stamps are 'small illustrated annals of China's history' ... I would like to share interesting stories about stamps with more people," says Dong.

"I was hit by a 'pie' last year," Dong has jokingly told several of her friends. Indeed, she had a fruitful year in 2018. Several life-changing events happened during that year; for example, she was chosen as the engraver of Fat Pig Wangfu, a zodiac stamp for China's Year of the Pig (2019); and she had her treatise, Engravers Through Time — A History of Chinese Intaglio Postage Stamps, published. The book, which records 110 years of historical development of Chinese intaglio stamps, is the first of its kind in China.

These feats, though, required many hours of training and practice. During the past decade, Dong has created many exquisite stamps, and she has spared no effort in pursuing artistic perfection. When asked which work has given her the greatest satisfaction, Dong replies, "My next work."

Engraver Creates Stamps, Popularizes Information About 'Small Illustrated Annals of China's History
Dong Qi, who works for the Postage Stamp Printing Bureau, under the China Post Group Corporation (in Beijing), is one of two third-generation inheritors of the stamp-engraving craft. [For Women of China]

 

New Start

In 1977, Dong was born in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Influenced by her mother, who worked in a post office (in Urumqi), Dong became fascinated by the beauty of stamps.

In 1999, Dong began working in the Xinjiang branch of the China Post Group Corporation. In 2005, the branch sent her to the stamp design department, under the corporation's Postage Stamp Printing Bureau, to study stamp-engraving skills. Given her diligence and wisdom, Dong quickly honed her skills.

When Dong was about to end her "training session" the following year, a leader of the bureau asked her if she would like to work at the bureau. Dong agreed immediately. That gave her a new lease on life.

Diligent Student

"The essential qualities of a stamp engraver include a love for stamps, painting skills and long -lasting concentration. Also, he/she must have a strong sense of responsibility and be able to withstand loneliness," says Dong. "Luckily, I have all these qualities. So, I adjusted to my new work environment within a short time."

Dong is grateful to the bureau's experienced workers, who helped her improve her designing, engraving and painting skills during her first few years with the bureau.

In 2010, Dong earned her master's degree in artistic design at the Chinese National Academy of Arts. Two years later, she attended the training course provided by Martin Mörck, a Norwegian artist and engraver of postage stamps and banknotes. China Post Group Corporation and Denmark Post Group Corporation invited Mörck to provide the course. Dong treasured the opportunity to study, and she worked hard to improve her artistic skills.

To fulfill her task on time, Dong often works day and night. "Although I'm exhausted after long hours of work, I'm delighted to see my fruitful results," says Dong.

Under the experienced workers' guidance, Dong in recent years has created many postage stamps and postcards, with different themes.

Pursuing Perfection

Given her enthusiasm for beautiful things, and her persevering effort to improve her artistic skills, Dong has made rapid progress in honing her skills during the past decade. Many stamps (created by her), with different themes, such as the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the 12th National People's Congress, have been well received.

When the corporation announced, in May 2018, it would use the paintings of Han Meilin (a well-known Chinese artist) as the draft for the design of zodiac stamps for China's Year of the Pig (2019), Dong and nine other stamp engravers were eager to have a try. Given her superb painting and engraving skills, and her thorough understanding of Han's artistic style, Dong's design of Fat Pig Wangfu won. Xu Zhe, Dong's colleague, was chosen as the engraver of "Five Fortunes," the other zodiac stamp for the year. Dong depicted an adorable pig running swiftly, which embodied people's desire to enjoy the good life. In Xu's picture, one may see a harmonious pig's family — pig parents with their three kids.

Dong, who suffered from shingles (a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a localized area), worked day and night to create the stamp. She and Xu asked their colleagues, master engravers and experts in platemaking, to help them improve their artworks. Eventually, Dong was relieved to see their designs were approved by their leaders.

Engraver Creates Stamps, Popularizes Information About 'Small Illustrated Annals of China's History
Stamps for China's Year of the Pig (2019) [For Women of China]

 

Popularizing Knowledge, Historical Development about Stamps

Roughly at the same time she created Fat Pig Wangfu, Dong had her treatise, Engravers Through Time — A History of Chinese Intaglio Postage Stamps, published. In addition to recording 110 years of historical development of Chinese intaglio stamps, the book outlines the achievements of 30-plus experts (in stamp-related fields), including engravers, painters, printing experts, philatelic activists, collectors and historians, based on Dong's interviews with the experts.

Within a short time, many media outlets reported on Dong's book, and many stamp collectors wrote comments about the book. Earlier this year, China's State Post Bureau decided the book would be displayed during the China 2019 World Stamp Exhibition, which will be held in Wuhan (capital of Central China's Hubei Province) from Jun 11 to 17, 2019. These developments inspired Dong to make greater efforts to pursue artistic perfection.

Dong during the past two years has provided, via Peking University's Boya Forum, two courses to popularize, among the students and residents, knowledge about stamps and the items' cultural value. The courses have been well received.

"Stamps are 'small illustrated annals of China's history.' The items, which embody both China's distinct cultural features and rich historical and cultural messages, have become the country's 'name cards.' ... I would like to share interesting stories about stamps with more people," says Dong.

Engraver Creates Stamps, Popularizes Information About 'Small Illustrated Annals of China's History
Dong Qi, who works for the Postage Stamp Printing Bureau, under the China Post Group Corporation (in Beijing), is one of two third-generation inheritors of the stamp-engraving craft. [For Women of China]

 

(Women of China)

 

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