China Stamps - 1997-21 , Scott 2826 The Outlaws of the Marsh- A Literary Masterpiece of Ancient China (5th series) -S/S - MNH, F-VF : "The Water Margin", also called "Outlaws of the Marsh", is the representative work of Shi Naian of the late Yuan and the early Ming dynasties. The 108 generals in his novel all have their own unique characters and legends, known to readers of different historical periods.On December 20, 1987, China issued stamps T.123 "The Water Margin-China's Classical Literature" (Group1). Groups 2,3,4, and 5 were issued on July 25, 1989, November 19, 1991, August20, 1993 and this year separately. The most typical scenes of the novel were depicted in the 20 stamps and three small sheets. The issuance of "The Water Margin" stamps lasted for 10 years, one of the longest time for China's serial stamps.Group 5 stamps will be the last group of "The Water Margin" stamps . They described the ranking of 108 heroes, the peak time for the uprising of the heroes of the margin. Textual research shows that there were only a few stories about the heroes of the margin such as Song Jiang, which circulated among the people from the failure of Song Jiang's uprising to the writing of "The Water Margin". The folk legends, ballads and Zaju (poetic dramas) had enriched the heroes' stories and increased the number of heroes from 36 to 72, and finally to 108, creating a "36" and "72" hero groups.The stamps of "The Water Margin" were issued when China started to reform its stamp designing system. These stamps were designed on the basis of a collection of solicited contributions from the society. The designers, who conducted a complete and thorough study on the famous classical novel, redisplayed the peasants' uprising. These stamps have been well received among the academic circle and the philatelists and regarded as a set of good stamps depicting the ancient Chinese classic novels.