The coin pictured is one of twelve which together form a complete set of 100 yuan 1 oz gold lunar coins issued between 1988 and 1999. The reverse face of the coins in this set feature the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The obverse of the coins bear the inscription in Chinese characters: “The People’s Republic of China”. Above the inscription on all coins in the set (with the exception of the 1988 Year of the Dragon coin which features an image of the Temple of Heaven below the inscription) is an image of the national emblem of China. The year of production is inscribed on all coins at the bottom of the obverse face.
This is the 1988 Year of the Dragon coin from the set. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 32mm. It has a mintage of 10,000 and was struck at the Shanghai mint.
The obverse features an image of the Temple of Heaven. Prayers and sacrifices were made by the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Dynasty emperors at the Temple of Heaven during the winter solstice. The Temple of Heaven was completed in 1420 AD and prayers and sacrifices were made there in the hope of a good harvest until they were banned by the government of the Republic of China in 1911.
The reverse features two intricately detailed dragons symmetrically opposite each other. The denomination, 100 yuan, is inscribed below the dragons and above an inscription pertaining to the specifications of the coin. It reads: “Contains 1 oz pure gold purity .999 1 oz Au”.
The dragon is the most important and respected creature in Chinese culture. A divine and mythical creature, it is highly revered for its power. It is the only mythical and magical animal in the Chinese zodiac, affording it a certain superiority in comparison to the others. The dragon is a traditional symbol of power, ambition, and strength. The dragon is often associated with strong dominating male personalities. People born in the year of the dragon are thought of as lucky, successful, prosperous, and happy.