Strolling thunder

Mariachi, stamps celebrating the lively Mexican musical tradition, will be released July 15.

The term “mariachi” can refer to the music, the person playing it, or anything associated with the genre.

Each of the five stamp designs depicts a single mariachi dressed in distinctive, eye-catching garb — an outfit called a traje de charro. These short-jacketed suits are often embroidered and worn with low-heeled boots, silk ties and sombreros.

Each is playing one of five common mariachi instruments: a violin; a trumpet; a guitar; a guittaron, a form of bass guitar; and a vihuela, a round-backed guitar that often handles rhythm and syncopation duties.

Mariachi often ply their trade on foot, strolling and serenading as they go.

It is such a distinctive tradition that in 2011, UNESCO named mariachi to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

Stamp artist Rafael Lopez sketched the designs by hand, then digitally added color and texture to the images. Derry Noyes served as art director.

The Forever stamps will be issued in panes of 20 and sold in Post Offices and on