A STAMPS gallery, believed to be the first and only one in the world to feature a Buddhism-themed collection, has opened its doors since the New Year.
Yayasan Belia Buddhist Malaysia (YBBM) set up the World Buddhist Stamps Gallery (WBSG) to preserve, exhibit and promote the stamps collection, depicting Buddhism, to the world.
Stamp donor Leong Kok Hing had donated his 40 years of Buddhism-themed stamps collection to YBBM in June.
Since then, YBBM members had been busy sorting out the stamps and setting up the gallery.
“Through this exhibition, the public can learn and understand more about the history, artists’ expressions, educational, political and cultural background of Buddhism,” said Leong, a 68-year-old retired teacher, said at the YBBM headquarters in Penang recently.
The YBBM advisor also said that Buddhists could better understand their religion by studying the stamps which originated from Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Korea, Bhutan, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and Afghanistan.
The avid stamps collector who started his hobby 40 years ago, said he used to collect normal stamps in the beginning.
“I began collecting Buddhism-themed stamps after embracing Buddhism.
“My initial aim was to hold my own exhibitions,” he said, adding that he had held four major exhibitions of his collections in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Taiwan.
Leong said he had to categorise his collection of stamps into seven different themes as it was quite tedious to go through the 5,000-odd stamps in his collection.
“With the advancement of technology, I learnt to scan my stamps in the computer and make them into a slideshow so that it would be easier for me to explain about the stamps to the public,” he said.
He had presented more than 200 talks about his stamps collection in Malaysia.
Leong’s first stamp was bought at a shopping mall in Japan and since then, he has made it a point to buy stamps whenever he goes overseas.
“There are around 350 Buddhism-related stamps in this first exhibition which is themed World Buddhist Heritage Through Stamps.
“Every four months, the gallery will hold a different themed exhibition including The Lord Buddha, Meeting Bodhisattvas, Buddhist Cultural Heritage, The Silk Road and 50 Buddhist Sites To Visit At Least Once in a Lifetime,” he said.
Leong has also published a book entitled ‘Buddhist Heritage: A Journey Through Stamps’ which includes photographs and explanations about the featured stamps.
The book costing RM120 will be available at the exhibition.
WBSG is located at the YBBM headquarters at 129, Seang Teik Road, in George Town, Penang.
The exhibitions will be held throughout the year and visitors can view the stamps’ details via an enlarged image.
Admission is free and the exhibition will be open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
Those interested can log on to www.wbsg129.org to register themselves for a one-hour guided tour of the gallery, which allows 25 persons each session. Walk-in visitors are also welcome.
Also present at the press conference were YBBM chairman Datuk Ang Choo Hong, vice-chairman Tan Gin Soon, directors Tan Eng Hock, Yeoh Kia Gee and Ooi Ean Ping and exhibition art director Hor Kwei On.