“Toppen og Bolden” – the sequel

Last week I posted a blog about a mysterious skyline in this Danish stamp which featured the HC Andersen story “Toppen og Bolden” or “The Sweethearts”. Some more searching brought me to a page of the World Online Philatelic AgHC Andersen stampsency (WOPA), which explains a bit more about the Danish-Chinese collaboration on the Hans Christian Andersen stamps. Apparently HC Andersen is quite well known in China – some of his tales are even in the school curriculum! From an intercultural perspective I found it interesting how they explain why the tale The Little Match Girl is hugely popular in China because it reminds people of how important it is to have a “warm home and a loving family”.

Mysterious skyline
Back to the mysterious skyline. WOPA only says about the skyline that “All four stamps feature modern interpretations of the stories, with the actions being played out against a backdrop of urban skyscrapers”, so I decided to contact one of the designers, Rasmus Berggreen. He explained that in the process of developing the stamps with the Chinese designers, it became clear to them that the stories are still relevant today and that they will always remain so. They are timeless:

“The stories live in their own space, disconnected from the physical world, which is why we wanted to merge the old and the new, make it feel like time was merging in a modern fairy tale land. We came up with making a metropole in which these stories existed. You can find small things that indicate that they all exist in the same city. The main building is clear in all of them, and the large city also has an old town, full of mystery.”

He also explains that the skies are representing the inner wishes of the characters in the stories: “Like in The Sweethearts, they are dancing together, but in reality they never connected and the love was never really there.”

Isn’t it interesting how much one stamp can tell you? I’m glad I looked more closely!

Image from www.hcandersen-homepage.dk

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About Marian van Bakel

I graduated in International Business Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. After my studies I was a Visiting Study Fellow at University of Oxford where I conducted a research on the adjustment of Dutch diplomats and their partners in London. In February 2012 I successfully defended my PhD thesis ‘In Touch with the Dutch’, in which I put expatriates in touch with a Dutch host to examine the effect of this contact on the success of the international assignment. During my PhD research I also worked as in house communication consultant at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I am currently a postdoc at the Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy at the University of Southern Denmark (www.sdu.dk/en). Since 2004 I have done extensive voluntary work in the intercultural field for the Young Society of Intercultural Education, Training and Research (Young SIETAR). One of my projects was to co-edit and co-author A Suitcase Full of Discoveries (2008), an intercultural storybook for children.
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