This coin is the 1984 Year of the Rat coin, the fourth in a series of twelve coins featuring the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. These lunar coins are all 15 grams and 85% pure silver. They all feature the animal of the Zodiac corresponding to the year of production on the reverse face and a work of architecture significant to Chinese history, culture or religion on the opposing face.
This coin has the legal tender of 10 yuan. It features Qianmen on the obverse, and a painting of a rat by Qi Baishi on the reverse. Qianmen, translating to “Front Gate,” was a tower at one of the main entrances to the heart of Beijing city. A feature of Beijing’s surrounding wall, it was constructed in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty. “Qianmen” is printed in Chinese characters to the right of the tower, and “Beijing” appears below the image. The year of production is also printed below the tower. In all, 10,000 of these coins were released by the People’s Bank of China in 1984. These coins were originally released in blue velvet boxes and featured information about the coin and the artist featured on the coin.
“Rat with Autumn Fruit” is shown on the reverse face. This is a painting of Qi Baishi, a well-known Chinese artist who lived and worked from 1864 to 1957. Qi taught himself many of the techniques for which he is known, including wood carving and calligraphy. He originally entered into the trade of carpentry, but found a greater calling in art. He painted often in watercolor, incorporating some aspects of calligraphy into his work. This painting shows a rat, sniffing curiously at a pumpkin or gourd. The face value, 10 yuan, is printed below the rat and pumpkin.
Though this is the fourth coin in the series, the rat is actually the first animal in the cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. As such, the rat is thought to be a leader among animals, possessing an entrepreneurial soul and ambitious goals. Those born in this year are said to possess the same qualities, even to the point of being manipulative or cunning. They are also known to be highly analytical and excellent people of business.
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