The coin displayed above is one of twelve 8g gold lunar coins issued between 1981 and 1992, making a complete series featuring the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The reverse of the coins in the series show artwork featuring the twelve zodiac animals, each one bearing a painting of the animal corresponding to that coin’s particular year of production. The obverse of the coins feature images of architecture of Chinese historical importance. The year of production is inscribed below the image.
This is the 150 yuan Year of the Dragon coin of the series. It was produced in 1988 at the Shenyang mint. It is a proof coin with a purity of 91.6% and a diameter of 23mm. It has a mintage of 7,500.
The design on the obverse face is the Great Wall of China, an engineering and architectural wonder of the world. The wall, now stretching over 21,000km in length, was originally built in part during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) following the unification of China. The majority of the wall seen today is as a result of construction works carried out during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Above the image is the inscription in Chinese characters: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below the image is inscribed the year of production, 1988.
The reverse face features an image of a dragon flying above a stormy sea. It is part of a much larger original painting depicting two dragons, one white and one green, flying side by side above the waves. The denomination, 150 yuan, is inscribed below the rendering of the painting.
In Chinese culture, the dragon is a divine creature which commands the most respect and reverence above all the other creatures. In the Chinese zodiac it occupies the fifth position in the cycle. The dragon symbolises power, prosperity, and success. Since the dragon is the totem of the Chinese people, they often refer to themselves as the ‘Descendants of the Dragon’. People born in the year of the dragon are considered to be very fortunate because they are traditionally seen as ambitious, successful, happy people.