China Post recently released two new stamps on Jan. 5 in commemoration of the upcoming Year of the Rabbit for Chinese New Year.
According to Xinhua News, the first stamp depicts a blue rabbit holding a pen. The words “blue rabbit" are pronounced similarly to “blueprint” in Chinese, symbolising the drawing of a new year's blueprint.
The second shows three rabbits galloping around in a circle, which represents family reunion, happiness as well as the “circle of life”.
Blue rabbit stamp unexpectedly popular
The stamp of the blue rabbit was apparently sold out shortly after its release due to its design, which has become a source of debate on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Some users commented:
“Master Huang (the artist), how is this a rabbit? It looks more like a dying rat that ate medicine, so scary.”
“It is indeed strange, but still cute, I still bought it.”
“This rabbit looks like a deformed rat, it’s so cursed. Even if we don’t talk about aesthetic standards, if you show this to 10 people I bet nine of them will feel uncomfortable”.
According to Jiupai News, Chinese online shopping platform Taobao held a ceremony at the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities to launch the zodiac stamps.
The ceremony also featured a mascot of the blue rabbit.
This apparently led to even more discussion online about the mascot, which was referred to as the three-dimensional version of the "cursed" blue rabbit.
Taobao also initiated a ceremony to launch the stamps where the blue rabbit appeared as an actual mascot costume. It did not help. pic.twitter.com/k6NDPyTrol— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) January 6, 2023
The blue rabbit mascot was apparently removed later due to negative feedback.
Artist responds to online discussion
The artist of the blue rabbit stamp, 99-year-old Huang Yongyu, responded to social media discussion on the design of the stamp via a livestream released on Weibo.
Huang said that to him, illustrating stamps was a happy thing and that everyone can draw rabbits.
He highlighted that he drew the rabbit to make people happy, and that he was not the only one who can draw rabbits.
Some have defended his artistic preferences, while others continue to express their dislike at the rabbit’s design.
“I won’t discuss the design of Huang Yongyu’s rabbit but this has always been his art style, and he has drawn a series of rabbits. Don’t say that the rabbit was purposely made to look ugly, [Huang] is already 99 years old, show some kindess.”
“The rabbit still feels eerie and dark.”
“The main point is that we don't feel happy (about the rabbit's design)."
Huang's response went viral through a hashtag trending on Weibo, which had garnered more than 17 million views as of time of writing.
Annual zodiac stamps since 1980
China Post has been releasing zodiac-themed stamps every year since 1980, which was the Year of the Monkey. That year's zodiac stamp was also designed by Huang.
He has since been known as the "father of the monkey stamp". The artist is also renowned for his ink painting, woodblock prints and literature, according to CGTN News.
Top images via Getty/VCG & Twitter/@manyapan