Heorhiy Narbut Prize
Flowers Finish First for 2001 Narbut Prize
The spectacular souvenir sheet depicting Wildflowers of Ukraine is the Narbut Prize winner for 2001. With so many excellent philatelic designs released in 2000, it was expected that the voting would be very close. However, the floral souvenir sheet finished well ahead and garnered 24% of the ballots, 11 percentage points better than the second place finisher, an equally striking souvenir sheet of St. Volodymyr the Great (ca. 956 - 1015).
As has been the pattern in recent years, four stamp issues ended up dominating the voting. In third place, with 12% of the votes, was the Ukrainian Easter Egg (pysanky) souvenir sheet, while in fourth place (11%) were the year 2000 stamp issues of the ongoing Ukrainian Hetmans (Cossack leaders) series, which last year depicted Hetmans Apostol (1654-1734) and Samoilovych (? - 1690). No other stamp release received more than 6% of the votes.
Souvenir sheets then, remain a very popular format with the voting public. This was the fourth year in a row that such a sheet finished ahead in the competition. However, unlike the previous three years, this year's winner did not depict a historic topic.
The designer of this charming and unusual floral philatelic release is Kateryna Shtanko. As winner of the Narbut Prize, she receives a $250 honorarium and a special award certificate. Ms. Shtanko is only the second female designer to win the Prize since its inception in 1993.
This year's winning design is unusual in that it is composed of 10 stamps, considerably more than the two, three, or four typically found on most souvenir sheets. Since each stamp is valued at 30 kopiok, the total value for the sheet is 300 kopiok or 3 hryven (about 50 cents US). Only 50,000 of these sheets were printed, about the same as for most recent Ukrainian souvenir sheets. Because of its new status as the Narbut Prize winner, however, and because of its obvious beauty and collectability, it would not be surprising if this particular item becomes more highly sought after and eventually increases in value.
The souvenir sheet is meant to highlight the natural beauty of Ukraine, both floral and human. Flowers are often used to adorn Ukrainian women, particularly at festivals or celebrations. Six of the depicted wildflowers compose the floral wreath worn by a hazel-eyed young lady. (Such dark-colored eyes (kari ochi) are frequently lauded in Ukrainian song and poetry.)
Starting in the upper left, the flowers in the oversized headdress are marigolds (chornobryvtsi), camomile (romashka), hollyhocks (malva), and the field poppy (mak). The middle left stamp shows periwinkle minor (barvinok). This plant has a special significance at Ukrainian weddings. Wreaths of periwinkle are made for both the bride and groom. The middle right stamp displays the last flower in the headdress, the bachelor's button or cornflower (voloshka synyia). It is frequently used to decorate wedding wreaths.The remaining four wildflowers making up the "field" in front of the central figure are: morning glory (krucheni panychi), lilies (lileyia), peonies (pivonia), and bluebells (dzvonyky).