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Unissued Universal Postal Union Commemorative

Unissued Universal Postal Union Commemorative
This one of eight stamps that were rejected by Imam Ahmed.

On March 1, 1950 Yemen issued a set of four regular postage stamps and four airmail stamps to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1949. Each set (regular and airmail) depicted Imam Ahmed, a camel and an airplane on 4, 6, 10 and 14 bogash values. The set was rejected for official release by the Imam Ahmed in part because the design included his image.

The BBC reports on Islamic traditions surrounding images in a Q&A entitled "Depicting the Prophet Muhammad":

Islamic tradition or Hadith, the stories of the words and actions of Muhammad and his Companions, explicitly prohibits images of Allah, Muhammad and all the major prophets of the Christian and Jewish traditions.

More widely, Islamic tradition has discouraged the figurative depiction of living creatures, especially human beings. Islamic art has therefore tended to be abstract or decorative.

Shia Islamic tradition is far less strict on this ban. Reproductions of images of the Prophet, mainly produced in the 7th Century in Persian, can be found.

Earlier Yemeni stamps reflected traditional Islamic beliefs regarding images of living creatures.

Yemeni Stamps with Abstract Designs
Abstract and decorative art dominated Yemen's stamp designs before 1951.

Imam Ahmed died in 1962. His son Mohammed al-Badr attempted to assume his father's position but was overthrown by rebels who established the Yemen Arab Republic. The new Imam fled to the mountains in the northwest and established a rival state, the Mutawakelite Kingdom of Yemen which operated its own postal service via Saudi Arabia until 1970. The first stamps were issued on November 7, 1962. Over the next eight years many stamps were issued by contract agents who acted independently flooding the philatelic market with stamps that served no postal purpose.

Red Cross Centenary
Several Yemen stamps were overprinted for use by the Royalist postal service
before this first original design was issued in 1963 (low values in a set of five).

Many of the colourful issues of the Mutawakelite Kingdom
of Yemen were primarily intended for the philatelic market.


Gondocz, Andrew. "Kingdom of Yemen Stamps and Postal Stationery: 1949 to 1959." Yemen Stamps and Postal Stationery Index. n.d.
     Oh My Gosh Publishing. 26 Apr. 2008

Mackay, Dr. James. The Complete Guide to Stamps and Stamp Collecting.London: Hermes House, 2005.

Rossiter, Stuart and John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald and Co., 1986.

"Yemen." Stanley Gibbons Stamps of the World 2002. 2001.

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