Perak small heads issue - Lin Yangchen
  • Perak small heads issue

©Lin Yangchen


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Nam Thean Tong Temple ('cave of the southern sky') in the limestone hills of Ipoh. The temple was founded in 1867 by a Taoist priest by the name of Kuong San Teik, whose descendants run the temple to this day (Cheah 2009). The upper floors are made of timber and supported by trusses. A wooden toilet greets visitors to the left of the entrance. On the reverse of the card, a couple write about their enjoyable road trip from Singapore to Penang and back, presumably passing Ipoh which lies on the railway line from Singapore to Butterworth.

Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah ibni Al-marhum Sultan Abdul Jalil Karamatullah Nasiruddin Mukhataram Shah Radziallah (1890—1963), wearing the tall white tengkolok of the Sultan of Perak.

Unique features of the Perak issues include the “aura” created by the dotted background lines in the vicinity of the tengkolok, and the striking three-dimensional relief produced by the generous gap between the medallion’s rim and contents. The engravers seemed to have exercised considerable artistic liberty back then, when the authorities were less obsessed with conformity and standardization.

An uncleared progressive die proof on chalky paper exists showing the unapproved alternative portrait of the sultan, which has insufficient contrast, does not look authoritative enough and features a funny pockmarked lower lip. The author commissioned for his private collection a high-resolution photographic reproduction (not shown because of copyright) of the original proof in the Crown Agents Philatelic and Security Printing Archive held at the British Library.

A rare 'dry print' showing a blank patch where the ink might have dried or the inked key plate been touched by accident just before printing.

The orang asli ('aboriginal people'), incorrectly referred to by the derogatory term sakai ('inferior' in Malay), hunting along the Sungei Sungkei in the tropical jungles of Perak using blowpipes made of bamboo. The sap of the Ipoh tree (Antiaris toxicaria), after which the state capital of Perak was named, is mixed and heated with that of plants of the genus Strychnos, which contain indole alkaloids, to make the poison for the blowpipe darts. The orang asli are by no means inferior to latter-day urban dwellers in their ability to live off the jungle without destroying it.


Orang asli village in Ulu Kinta, Perak.

References


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