Pictured here is one of twelve coins that make a complete set honoring the full cycle of the Chinese zodiac. These coins were released between the years of 1987 and 1998. The Year of the Rabbit, 1987 is the first of the series. This is the Year of the Rabbit coin. The coin weighs five ounces and contains 99.9% pure silver. It measures 70 millimeters in diameter and bears the legal tender face value of 50 yuan. Like all of the coins in the series, this coin shows the animal for which the year is named on the reverse face of the coin and an important work of Chinese architecture or construction on the obverse face of the coin. In all, 4000 of these coins were authorized for release by the People’s Bank of China in 1987.
This Year of the Rabbit Coin shows the Yellow Crane Tower on the obverse face. The Yellow Crane Tower was first erected in 223 AD, though it has been rebuilt many times since then. The structure that one can visit today was built in 1981 and does not resemble the original tower. The Yellow Crane Tower is a sacred Taoist site, and it is believed that Lu Dongbin ascended to heaven from this site. Above the tower on the coin, one can see the words, “The People’s Republic of China.” Below it, one can see the year of issue, 1987.
“Picture of a Pair of Rabbits” appears on the reverse face of this coin. Liu Kuiling was a famous artist of the 20th century in China. He was particularly well known for his scenes of nature, as he grew up in the country and drew his inspiration from the world around him. Liu was well known for incorporating Western style into his work. These techniques helped him achieve excellent perspective in his paintings. This illustration shows two rabbits close together, caring for one another.
In China, the rabbit is seen as a very lucky year in which to be born. The rabbit is a tranquil, content, and loving animal who has good luck throughout its life. The people born in this year are said to be nurturing, as the rabbits seem to be in the rendering above. Though shy and possibly reserved, rabbits are loyal friends and possess capability for deep thought and creativity.
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