Let's Look at China through stamps

Site: ASPS StampIT
Course: Let's Look at China - through stamps
Book: Let's Look at China through stamps
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Date: Friday, 3 December 2021, 12:44 AM

1. The giant panda

The giant panda  dàxióngmāo  大 熊 猫   

One of the most popular Chinese animals is the giant panda and everyone knows that giant pandas are black and white but they also have some brown fur, usually around the tummy area.

Black and white giant panda but with a lot of brown fur. 

But, did you know, there is a brown and white giant panda! It is only found in the Qínlǐng mountains, Shaanxi.

Qínlǐng dàxióngmāo

  秦 岭 大 熊 猫  


Next page explains about two regions Shaanxi and Shanxi in China. 

2. Shaanxi and Shanxi

Another interesting fact is that there are two Shanxi provinces in China:

山西 shānxī    

陕西 shǎnxī     

Notice the first characters are different and the words are pronounced with different tones. 

陕西 shǎnxī is often written as Shaanxi in English to help show the difference. 

Use an atlas to find where Shaanxi and Shanxi are in China. The Qinling giant panda is only found in Shaanxi. 

Next page is about Chinese brush painting

3. Chinese brush painting

Chinese brush painting is an art using a brush dipped in black or coloured inks. Different strokes and textures can be made by holding the brush at different angles and adding more or less water to the inks.  There are many brush paintings of bamboo which is the giant panda’s favourite food.

The Chinese for brush painting is 

毛 笔 画 máobǐ huà    

Create a picture in Chinese brush painting style. 

Next page is about the tiger

4. Tigers

One of the most endangered animals in China is the tiger. There is actually only one species of tiger but there are 6 different subspecies. Only 3 of the subspecies can be found in China.

Find out the names of all 6 subspecies of tiger and the 3 that can be found in China.

The main reason that tigers are endangered is because of TCMs. 

Find out what TCM stands for and why this affects tigers. 

On this tiger stamp it says – Panthera tigris altaica which is the scientific name.

What is the common name for this subspecies of tiger? 

The Chinese name is also written on the stamp 

东北虎 dōngběi hǔ     

Next page is about the golden monkey

5. Golden monkey

This monkey is known as the golden snub-nosed monkey but the Chinese have a more beautiful name for it which is golden silk monkey. 

金 丝 猴 jīn sī hóu   

One of the main areas it is found in is the 秦 岭 mountains.    

This area was mentioned on the giant panda page. Look again at the giant panda page and find out what the characters mean:

秦 岭

Next page is about kites

6. Kites

The Chinese invented the kite. The first kites were made of wood and cloth and were usually in the shape of birds. The full set of these Chinese stamps show one in the shape of a hawk, a phoenix (an imaginary bird), a dragon and one showing the Chinese eight diagrams.

The Chinese word for kite is 

风 筝 fēngzhēng   

The Chinese eight diagrams link to the sky, marsh, fire, thunder, wind, water, mountains and earth.

Do you know your Chinese numbers? 

The characters are given below but they are mixed up! Sort them in the correct order. 

四    七    一    三   六   八     五    二 

Next page is about sport

7. Sport

This set of stamps was issued in 2006 in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The design is a very simple ‘stickman’ style but still manages to show the sports for basketball, fencing, sailing  and gymnastics. 

The Chinese word for sport is 

运动 yùn dòng     

Choose a different sport and design a ‘stickman’ to show the sport.

Next page is about the Chinese calendar

8. The Chinese calendar

The Chinese dragon is a legendary animal. It is a symbol of power, strength and good luck.

The Chinese 60-year calendar cycle was based on a combination of 10 ‘heavenly stems’ and 12 ‘earthly branches’. Each year was given a name with a stem and a branch. There are also twelve animals linked to the years. 

The Chinese for dragon is 龙 lóng   

The red Chinese characters on the dragon stamp above are

壬 辰 年 rén chén nián

壬 is 9th of the 10 heavenly stems and 

辰 is 5th of the 12 earthly branches 

年 means year

We are going to investigate why the stamp has these characters. 

Using the chart on the next page you have to find the slot where the 9th heavenly stem and the 5th earthly branch characters line up. 

Go to next page for the chart

9. Chinese 60 year cycle

First look for 壬  rén in the red circle. 

Go to next page to find the heavenly stem 

10. Finding the heavenly stem

There are 10 red characters, that are the heavenly stems, repeated around the outer circle. 

Now look for 辰 chén in the blue circle. 

Go to next page to find the earthly branch

11. Finding the earthly branch

There are 12 blue characters, that are the earthly branches, repeated around the inner circle. 

Which slot does the heavenly stem 壬 rén and the earthly branch 辰 chen line up? 

Go to next page to reveal answer

12. The 29th year

And that's why the 2012 dragon stamp has the characters 壬 辰 年 

Find where 戊申 line up. 
Which year of the 60 year cycle is 戊申 and what is the animal for that year?

Next page is about Chinese characters

13. Chinese characters

You have already come across quite a few Chinese characters in this book. This is the Chinese writing system. It has been around for over 4000 years but the characters have changed over time. The early Chinese characters were simple drawings of objects and pictures of ideas. 

To correctly write Chinese characters, the strokes have to be written in the correct order. Square grids can help you to learn to write the characters.

[There is a printable copy of this online book which includes grids to write on. If you don't have a printer, just practise on any paper. You might want to draw some grids on it to help.]

Stroke order for 大 dà which means big    

Stroke order for 小 xiǎo which means small   

Stroke order for 中 zhōng which means middle    

Next page is about the Chinese flag and colours

14. The Chinese flag & colours

The Chinese flag in Chinese is 中 国 国 旗 zhōngguó guóqí



The Chinese flag is red and yellow. In China, the colour red is linked to luck, joy and happiness. Red is always used in festivals. Yellow was the emperor's colour. Palaces and temples were often decorated in yellow and gold. 

red - 红 色 hóngsè   
yellow - 黄 色 huángsè   

Yellow also represents bravery in China. The hero in a Chinese opera will often have a yellow mask and robes. Do you link colours with emotions? 

How many traditional sayings can you think of that link a colour to an emotion? For example, 'I was tickled pink.

Next page is about Huanglong

15. Huanglong

This stamp shows a waterfall in a place called Huánglóng Valley in northwest Sìchuān province. 

Do you remember this character? 龙 lóng    

Do you remember the colour for the emperor? 黄色 huángsè   

Together 黄龙 Huánglóng   

You may want to look back at the Chinese calendar and the Chinese flag & colours

Next page is about The Silk Road

16. The Silk Road

China discovered how to make silk. The thread is from the cocoons of the silkworm. The silkworm isn’t a worm but a moth, which starts life as a caterpillar and then weaves itself into a cocoon to transform into a moth. 

China managed to keep the secret of making silk for many years. Merchants traded with other countries and the route they took became known as the silk route or the silk road.

If you look closely at these stamps, you can see the method of transport the merchants took to travel across a large area of desert with many goods. 

sīchóu zhī lù 

丝 绸 之 路



The word for silk is: 

丝 绸 sīchóu    

This character has appeared before in this book:


Where and why was silk mentioned before?

(From the last page. did you work out that Huánglóng means yellow dragon!)

Next page is about The Great Wall

17. The Great Wall

The Chinese for the Great Wall means long wall 

长 城 chángchéng    

Find out about the Great Wall and try to answer these questions:

1. What length is the Great Wall?

A. The Great Wall is exactly 2,100km long.

B. All known parts of the Great Wall measure just over 21,000km.

C. No one has managed to measure the wall.

2. When was the Great Wall built?

A. The Great Wall was all built in the year 221 BC.

B. The Great Wall is still being built today.

C. Parts of the wall were built from as early as the 7th century, then later joined together and continued to be added to, up until about 1633.

Next pages is about The Terracotta Army

18. The Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army is an amazing collection of life size terracotta warriors and horses which were found in the burial ground of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first  emperor of China. 

There are about 8000 warriors, 100 chariots, 400 horses and more than 100,000 weapons found so far.

Terracotta is a type of clay. It took thousands of men many years to make the army and they must have used an awful lot of clay.

The Chinese for the Terracotta Army is 

兵 马 俑 bīngmǎyǒng   

Use any modelling clay or plasticine and make at least two small terracotta warriors. When you make them, make sure that each one looks different. The real terracotta clay models all had different hair, faces and clothing.

Next page is about forks and chopsticks!

19. Forks and Chopsticks


Look closely at the two stamps. The pictures on one of the stamps compares the cutlery that would be used in China and Scotland. 

Chopsticks were certainly invented by the Chinese. What about the fork? Is the fork a Scottish invention? 

Name the items on the other stamp. Try to think of some other Chinese foods. 

fork - 叉 子 chāzi    

chopstick - 筷 子 kuàizi    

On the next few pages find out some ideas to have fun with Chinese stamps

20. StampART

Make art from stamps. Either make a collage using stamps or take one stamp and create a picture around the stamp using the theme of the stamp to inspire you. 

I created this great wall of China collage from Chinese stamps. 


To inspire you, have a look at these wonderful artists:


Tonia Jillings

The next page is about making a StampPAGE

21. StampPAGE

Using stamps, create a decorative stamp page. This page can also include some written information. 

You could enter your page into the Mandarin language competition. 

The next page is about making a stampy cut-out

22. Stampy cut-out

Draw and cut-out a design, then choose a related stamp to stick onto the design. 

The next page is about finding out more about a stamp

23. Finding out about a stamp

Use a catalogue to find out more about a stamp.:

  • What is on the stamp?
  • When was the stamp issued?
  • Why was the stamp issued? 

To find out how to use a catalogue for some Chinese stamps, read the Let's Look at China online book - Using a stamp catalogue

There is also a little quiz in the book. 

If you want to find out more about finding information out about stamps also see What's it worth

Next page explains the title Let's Look at China through stamps and also how to find out the answers to the questions in this book. 

24. Let's Look at China

Let's Look at China through stamps


Ràng wǒmen tòuguò yóupiào kàn Zhōngguó. 

Literally the title translates as:  Let us, by means of postage stamps, look at China. 

邮票 - postage stamp        

中国 - China                      

This book is available to download as a workbook 

You will find the answers here - ANSWERS

Click for back to Let's Look at China