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Year of Snake stamp for sales
By Zhao Wen

THE zodiac stamp for the upcoming Year of Snake will be put on sale at local post offices starting at 6:30am today, at least half an hour earlier than regular business hours to avoid long queues, Shanghai Post Co announced the day before yesterday.

The stamp has a face value of 1.20 yuan (19 US cents). Stamp lovers can buy the stamp and stamp booklet worth 9.60 yuan at 82 post offices in the city.

Snake is the sixth in the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs. In Chinese folklore, the snake is often depicted as evil. The stamp designer made it look flowery and auspicious, in contrast to the fierce-looking dragon on the zodiac stamp of the current Year of Dragon. Wu Guanying, designer of the snake stamp, said he got the idea from an ancient Chinese story in which a snake carries a bright pearl in its mouth in gratitude to the man who saved its life.

"In traditional Chinese culture, the snake is also known as calm, wise, flexible and cautious," Wu said.

The stamp features a colorful snake holding a golden pearl in its mouth. It has a pink peony on the head signifying riches and honor. Its body carries the peach blossom, lotus, chrysanthemum and plum blossom, each representing one of the four seasons. Its tail is in the shape of ganoderma, a mushroom that is auspicious in China. Wu said it seems as if the snake is wearing a red and flowery cotton-padded jacket, reminding Chinese people of the days when they wore such clothes for the Lunar New Year.

Hu Shiyun, a spokesman for Shanghai Post Co, said the Chinese Zodiac stamp has been popular since it was first published in 1980. "Every Chinese has an animal sign of oneself. That's why those who are not stamp collectors also like to buy it," Hu said.

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