This coin is one of a series of twelve 8g gold lunar coins produced by the Shenyang mint over twelve years between 1981 and 1992 celebrating the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The reverse of the coins in the series feature images of paintings of the twelve zodiac animals, each one showing an image of the animal which is associated with the year of that individual coin. The obverse of the coins bear images of some of China’s greatest architectural achievements. Below this the year of issue is inscribed.
The coin pictured is the 150 yuan Year of the Rat coin struck in 1984. With a mintage of 5,000, it is a proof coin of 91.6% fineness and has a diameter of 23mm.
The obverse face shows a picture of Qianmen in Beijing. Literally meaning ‘Front Gate’, it was a guard tower at the southern entrance to the inner city and was once part of Beijing’s city wall. It was built in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Inscribed to the right of the picture is the Chinese for “Front Gate”. “Beijing” is inscribed below the picture, along with the year of issue, 1984.
The reverse face shows a rendering of a painting by Qi Baishi (1864-1957). Qi was a highly influential and a largely self-taught artist born into a peasant family. His work, unlike many of his contemporaries, shows no western influence. His style is characterised by playful watercolour brushstrokes. The painting, called “Rat with Autumn Fruit”, shows a rat stood resting its front paws on the edge of a piece of fallen fruit. The denomination, 150 yuan, is inscribed below the image.
The rat is the first animal in the order of the Chinese zodiac cycle. As a result of its position in the order, the rat traditionally symbolises leadership, ambition, and a pioneering spirit. People whose date of birth falls in the Year of the Rat are thought of as being intelligent, charismatic, industrious, and highly motivated.
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