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With the Democratic Party in complete tatters and the nation headed for disaster due to private greed and official incompetence, other words, the usual state of affairs, I figure what is needed to rally the liberal troops is an article series around a core issue, which of course is stamp collecting!  

Bosnia 1906 1k
    Baščaršija Mosque, Sarajevo
Stamps track a country's history.  

In 1906 the Austrian authorities who had governed Bosnia since 1878 decided to issue a series of pictorial stamps.  Pictorial stamps, although common now, had up to then been unusual.  Stamps, particularly those of European countries, had typically depicted sovereigns, heraldic figures, coats of arms, and so forth.  The Austrian postal authorities chose to show historic scenes of Bosnia as well as (then) modern methods of postal delivery.  The stamps themselves were designed by an an avant-garde style by the influential Vienna artist Koloman Moser.  The series was then considered one of the most attractive stamp issues of the time.

Bosnia 1906 20h
    Old Bridge, Mostar
In 1906, in the old Bosnian town of Mostar, there was a bridge, with the simple name of Stari Most ("Old Bridge"),which had been completed in 1567 after nine years of construction.  The bridge quickly became a famous wonder for the elegance of its design. The Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi  wrote in the 1600s that:
the bridge is like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies, extending from one cliff to the other. ...I, a poor and miserable slave of Allah, have passed through 16 countries, but I have never seen such a high bridge. It is thrown from rock to rock as high as the sky.

A symbol of beauty and peace, the Old Bridge was selected by the Austrians for inclusion in the 1906 pictorial series, and the bridge has been reported to have been depicted on over ten different postage stamps, mostly from Yugoslavia.  

The old bridge lasted over 400 years.  in the 1990s, war came to this little corner of the world, and Croatian militias decided to make war not only on Moslems, but also on cultural works of Islam such as mosques.  These militias bombarded the Old Bridge with artillery fire and destroyed it, although the bridge could never have been considered a legitimate military target.  Other parts of the city of Mostar were also destroyed.

    Reconstructed Old Bridge and
        old town of Mostar, 2007
Peace was restored sufficiently by the mid-2000s to be able to begin the enormous work of reconstructing the bridge and the surrounding area of old Mostar.  This was only possible with massive international funding and assistance.  It was decided to rebuild the with the same style and the same techniques as had been used in when the bridge was originally built.  Hungarian divers retrieved some of the stones from the original bridge from the bottom of the river, and these were incorporated into the new structure.  Even as late as 2004, when the new bridge was opened, it was still necessary to have heavy security at the opening ceremonies.

2006 Bosnia stamps
    Mostar Bridge on stamp of Bosnia Serb Republic
As a result of the extremely complicated Dayton Accords, Bosnia was divided into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serb Republic, which now co-exist in a rather uneasy peace.  

The Serb Republic however, no doubt anxious to attract tourism and investors, has featured the rebuilt bridge on one of its postage stamps, issued in 2006, coincidentally 100 years after the Austrian imperial government depicted the Old Bridge on a stamp.

Updated:  I am going to go paint my house.  If nobody heaps praises on me for this diary in the next 2 hours, I will make all 300,000 of you Kossacks come over here ad help me slap some color on this old shack.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 09:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.


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