November 2, 2017

3120, 3187 MALAYSIA (Malacca / Penang) - Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca (UNESCO WHS)

3120 Saint Paul's Church in Melaka

Posted on 12.08.2017, 02.11.2017
Melaka and George Town have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. Both towns bear testimony to a living multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the many religions and cultures met and coexisted, creating a unique architecture, culture and townscape.

3187 Christ Church in Melaka

With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.

St. Paul's Church in Melaka was originally built in 1521, by a Portuguese fidalgo or nobleman, making it the oldest church building in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. It is located at the summit of St. Paul's Hill and is today part of the Melaka Museum Complex comprising the A Famosa ruins, the Stadthuys and other historical buildings. The chapel was deeded to the Society of Jesus in 1548, with the title deeds received by St. Francis Xavier. The chapel was then further enlarged in 1556 with the addition of a second floor, and a belfry tower was added in 1590.

In 1548, St. Francis Xavier with the help of fellow Jesuits, established a school in the premises of the chapel known as St. Paul's College. This was perhaps the first school in the modern sense to be established on the Malay peninsula. Xavier used the church as his base for his missionary journeys to China and Japan. With the conquest of Melaka by the Dutch in 1641, the church was reconsecrated for Dutch Reformed use. In 1753, it was subsequently deconsecrated and the structure modified and strengthened as part of the fortifications of Melaka.

When the British occupied Melaka in 1824, the church was used as a powder magazine and was allowed to deteriorate further. In 1952, a statue of St. Francis Xavier was erected in front of the ruins of the church in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of his sojourn in Melaka. A day after the statue was consecrated, a large casuarina tree fell on it, breaking off its right arm. Incidentally, the right forearm of Xavier was detached in 1614 as a relic.

Built between 1741 and 1753, in commemoration of the centenary of the capture of Malacca from the Portuguese, but also to replace the ageing Bovenkerk (former St. Paul's Church), Christ Church in Melaka is the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia. With the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, the church was re-consecrated with the rites of the Church of England and renamed Christ Church. Originally painted white, the church and the neighbouring Stadthuys building was painted red in 1911 and this distinctive colour scheme has remained the hallmark of Malacca's Dutch-era buildings since.

The church is built in Dutch Colonial architecture style and is laid out in a simple rectangle of 25m by 13m. The ceiling rises to 12m and is spanned by wooden beams, each carved from a single tree. The roof is covered with Dutch tiles and the walls were raised using Dutch bricks built on local laterite blocks then coated with Chinese plaster. The floors of the church are paved with granite blocks originally used as ballast for merchant ships. The original Dutch windows were reduced and ornamented after the British takeover of Malacca and the porch and vestry were built only in the mid-19th century.

About the stamps
On the postcard 3120

The first stamp was issued on October 27, 2015 to mark the Stamp Week.

About the second stamp, a special postage stamp issued to mark 48 years of ASEAN, I wrote here.

On the postcard 3187
The stamp is part of the series Traditional Livelihoods, issued on June 21, 2012.

References
Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca - UNESCO official website
St. Paul's Church (Melaka) - Wikipedia

Sender 3120, 3187: Pumipat
3120: Sent from Melaka (Malacca / Malaysia), on 12.06.2017 
3187: Sent from Melaka (Malacca / Malaysia), on 12.06.2017  

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