To promote appreciation of the beauty of ancient Chinese art, Chunghwa Post is releasing two souvenir sheets on the painting “Three Friends and a Hundred Birds” by the Ming Dynasty painter Pien Wen-chin from the National Palace Museum collection. One souvenir sheet features three stamps, each highlighting a portion of the original masterpiece, with denominations of NT$5, NT$10, and NT$12. The other one features the full scroll with a denomination of NT$70. These will be issued on November 22, 2012. The designs of the souvenir sheets follow: Pien Wen-chin was an important bird-and-flower painter at the early Ming Dynasty court. His work blends the meticulous and exuberantly colored style of the great Northern Song master Huang Ch’üan with the Southern Song court painting tradition. The highly decorative painting features nearly 100 birds perched on bamboo, as well as pine and plum blossom branches. Court paintings of its era often carry symbolic meanings to denote auspiciousness. The “Three Friends of the Winter” refer to pine, bamboo, and plum blossom. Among them, plum blossom symbolizes integrity for its cold hardiness; bamboo is a homonym of a Chinese character that means “blessing,” and pine symbolizes longevity. Though the painting depicts 97 birds, it includes “a hundred birds” in the title to indicate the multitude of birds being featured. Furthermore, the number 100 is regarded as auspicious in Chinese. In consideration of the fact that it was painted for the court, it may also signify “the hundred birds pay homage to the phoenix,” an expression of great reverence. Resembling a spot in a mountain forest where 100 birds have gathered, the entire scroll is fascinating. For the first time ever in this post, the souvenir sheet featuring the entire scroll is printed on silk paper. The elegant silk further helps to shine a spotlight on the fine strokes of this masterpiece. A pictorial and a stamp folio featuring both souvenir sheets will also be released on the issuing date of the stamps. The cover of the pictorial is made of hard golden paper with red and black foil stamping, and the front features colorful flowers and birds printed on a fabric paper. The folio is with a classical golden paper cutting to gracefully show up the souvenir sheet printed on silk. Both designs are extremely elegant.