Above is the 1983 Year of the Pig, 15 gram silver coin, the third in a series of Chinese coins minted between 1981 and 1992. The silver is .85 in fineness, and the coin bears the denomination of 10 yuan. This series features the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac on the reverse faces, and twelve famed architectural works on the obverse faces. In 1983, 10,000 of these coins were struck by the Shenyang Mint.
The Beijing Summer Palace appears on the obverse face of the coin. The Summer Palace sits in the northwestern corner of Beijing. It is a large complex, added to by emperors of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The complex is three quarters water. This rendering features the portion of the palace that sits atop Longevity Hill, overlooking the Kunming Lake. Below the image, one can see the characters representing “Beijing,” and the year of minting, 1983. “Summer Palace” is inscribed to the right of Longevity Hill.
Xu Beihong’s (1895-1953) “Picture of a Pair of Pigs” appears on the reverse face of the coin. Xu was one of the most influential Chinese artists of the twentieth century. He was renowned for his use of both Western and Chinese technique, a style that stemmed from his travels in Europe. The picture shows two pigs standing together under the shade of a tree branch. The face value is printed below.
In China, the pig is associated with the qualities of prosperity and contentment, which is well-portrayed in Xu’s peaceful painting. The pig may also represent fertility or virility, and is considered a lucky year for the birth of a child. The plump and unassuming nature of the pig may have contributed to these associations. Those born in this year are nurturing, caring and kind, but may also be pushovers because of their sweet dispositions.
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