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Beads on Stamps: Gallery 2

You have to give credit to Malaysia. It is the first country to issue a set of stamps honoring beads, as opposed to showing them incidentally as here. And you have to give credit to Heidi Munan, the Honorary Curator of Beads at the spectacular Sarawak Museum. She badgered them into doing it and sent me a First Day Cover. Many, many thanks, Heidi.

The cachet (a special design on the left side of the envelope) for the First Day Cover of the stamps. "Cover" is stamp-talk for envelope.

The beads come from the two parts of Malaysia that are on the island of Borneo: Sarawak and Sabah. The former, especially, has many bead lovers, as you can see here.

The stamps were printed so that a block of four would include four different designs. Stamp collectors call this sort of issue a se tenant, French for "joined together."

A Pinakol - Beaded "bandoleers" worn by Rungus of north Sabah. These may be made of seed beads (as illustrated on the stamp), or strings of older beads incorporating long carnelians or glass imitations thereof.

Marik Empang

 (misspelled on the stamp): bead collars worn by Iban women of Sarawak. In the Iban language marik is beads, empang is a circle, as when people hold hands in a round dance or "bead roundelay."

This is simply marked manik kaca, Malay for "glass bead" (it should have been in the plural). These are some artist's impressions of heirloom beads, I suppose.


: hip girdle worn by the Rungus of north Sabah, often attached to a silver belt, made of beadwork or looped strings of beads. The stamp gives the misleading impression that the thing is circular.

You will notice there are a couple of errors on the stamps (they were printed before Heidi got a chance to proof them). Heidi thought that might make them collector's items. However, unless the error is corrected and the mistaken stamps withdrawn form sale, that probably will not happen.

On the other hand, these are collectibles desired by two important groups of hobbyists - stamp collectors and bead collectors. That sort of thing makes an item doubly valuable.

If there were ever any question about how wonderful email is, this proves the point. I had started this page before dinner an emailed Heidi about the terms I could not find in my dictionary (I only found empang, which means valve in Malay and was puzzling). Her reply was waiting for me when I finished the dishes. The notes about the stamps above (save the glass beads) are hers.

Again, Heidi, many thanks.


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