Silver 12 oz
The 12 oz silver lunar coins were minted between the years of 1988 and 1999 with one design per year to honor each of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Each coin is comprised of twelve ounces of 99.9% pure silver, each of which has a denomination of 100 yuan. All of the coins in this series are proof in quality wherein the detailed scenes appear almost 3-d like against the reflective mirror-fields of the background of the coin.. The silver coins in this series are somewhat rare, as the China Mint only authorized between 3000 and 400 coins for release for each design.
The obverse face of each of the coins shows a significant work of Chinese architecture. Examples include The Temple of Heaven, the Shanghai Pass, and sections of the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China is the oldest of the architectural accomplishments featured on the lunar coins, with the beginning date of construction sometime in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–207 BC). The most recent work of architecture featured on the coins is the beautiful Yonghe Temple, a Buddhist Temple built during the Qing Dynasty in 1694.
The reverse face of each of the coins displays an image of the animal that corresponds to the year of issue. These images are taken from traditional or modern works of Chinese art. Many of the artists honored on the coins were important artists of the twentieth century in China and are renowned for their education in Western technique as well as traditional Chinese technique. Qi Baishi is featured three times as an artist in the series. Qi lived and worked in China from 1864–1957; his work is shown on the rat, snake, and rooster coins. His style is unique from the other artists featured in the series, as Qi stuck to using traditional Chinese technique in his art. The first design of the series is the 1988 year of the dragon coin, which features a traditional dragon painting by an unknown artist.
The twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac are the rat, the ox, the tiger, the hare, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat or sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and the pig. Each of these animals is thought to possess certain characteristics or be symbolic of certain personality traits. It is said that those born in a particular year will display some of the personality traits associated with the animal of his or her year of birth. This astrological belief is deeply respected by the Chinese people, and lunar astrology used to play a large part in important political and military decisions. Many Chinese people still hold the Chinese Zodiac, or shengxiao, dear, and use it as an aid in their personal decision making processes. Because of its importance in Chinese history and culture, it is no wonder that the China Mint has released several series of coins honoring the Zodiac.
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