The coin shown is a one ounce, pure platinum coin, .9995 in fineness. It is one of the coin designs that honor the Chinese Zodiac. These coins were authorized for release by the Chinese Mint each of the years from 1988-1999. This coin was released in 1988, the Year of the Dragon, and because of this, features a pair of dragons on the reverse. It had a minting of 2,000. On the obverse, one can see the Temple of Heaven. The other coins in this series feature the National Emblem of China.
On each coin, the details of the coin are inscribed. On the obverse, the top edge shows the Chinese characters translating to, “The People’s Republic of China,” and below the Temple of Heaven is the year of release, 1988. On the reverse, one can see the face value of the coin, 100 yuan, below the picture of the two dragons. Below the denomination are the specifications of the metal: “contains one ounce of pure platinum, .9995 Pt.”
The illustration of the Temple of Heaven on the obverse of the coin makes this a stand-out coin in the series. The Temple of Heaven is located in Southeastern Beijing. Emperors of the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty would visit the temple to pray for a bountiful harvest. The Temple of Heaven, completed in 1420, is still a tourist attraction and symbol of Chinese Imperialism; however, prayers and sacrifices for a strong harvest have not been held there since 1911.
It is no surprise that the People’s Bank of China chose the dragon as the very first in the series of coins featuring the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The dragon is the most important beast in Chinese history and mythology. It is a creature revered for its divinity and power. It is the only magical beast in the Zodiac, which makes it stand out from the rest. The dragon iconizes power and luck, and the dragon is often an emblem of a strong male personality. It used to be the symbol of the emperor. Those born in this year are said to be vigorous, noble, direct and prosperous. They also may be mischievous, rebellious or dogmatic. On the coin, one can see two traditionally detailed dragons in coiled configurations. They face one another with fierce, open maws and talons extended.