Thursday, June 23, 2011

Åland - Abd-al-Wali 1.4.2011

On 1 April, the 'Aland cosmopolites' issued a stamp celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of orientalist and Alander Georg August Wallin . Wallin travelled the Arab world on his exploration expeditions. To gain acceptance in and access to places otherwise forbidden to non-Muslims, he presented himself as a Russian subject from Central Asia, Muslim Abd-al-Wali. The FDC features the desert, inspired by Georg August Wallin's journeys in the Arab world. Just like the stamp, the first day cover has gold printing. The gutter of the stamp sheet is decorated with oriental patterns and an extract from Georg August Wallin's handwritten diary written during his first journey to the Orient. My Dear friend Ella sent me this FDC.
People may well ask “Why does Åland Post choose to feature on a stamp an explorer and orientalist with the Arabian name Abd-al-Wali?” Well, he was born in Åland 200 years ago. His given name was Georg August Wallin and he was born 24 October 1811 in the Åland municipality of Sund. In 1817, the family moved to Turku when his father was appointed County Treasurer of Turku and Pori County. Then 18-year-old Georg August entered the University of Helsinki in 1829 to study oriental languages and received his MA in 1836. Three years later, he travelled to St. Petersburg, where he met Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Sayyad al-Tantawi whose tales about the Middle East inspired the young scholar. Wallin conducted his first expedition in Egypt in 1843.

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