A magic square is a numerical configuration in which the vertical, horizontal, diagonal and secondary diagonal columns in a square of numbers all add to the same value. In the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau, a famous legend tells of a magic square found on the back of a turtle, known as the lo shu, which crawled out of the Yellow River around 2000 BC. The sections of the mythical turtle’s shell were covered in little dots, forming the numerals of the 3×3 lo shu magic square, which read:
4 9 2
3 5 7
8 1 6
Each column, line and diagonal add up to 15. Pretty nifty, right?
Now, Macau is releasing a unique set of stamps to honor this legend. The collection itself is made up of nine stamps, each decorated with a different magic square-like design. This ranges from a “palindrome poem” written by Chinese poet Su Hui in 400 AD,to an 8×8 magic square created by Benjamin Franklin (only his “broken diagonals” add up to the same number, but it’s still pretty impressive).
To make things even more interesting, each stamp is worth between one and nine patacas, the currency of Macau. When arranged into a square (as prescribed by a Macau Post collectors sheet), the values of stamps themselves add up to 15 in all directions. Squares within squares, man. Magical.
Check out the gallery above to see each stamp and read about their history, and if you live in Macau, pick up some of this mind-bending postage here.