The coin shown is a 99.95% pure, platinum, one ounce coin, which shows a rendering of a snake on the reverse and the National Emblem of China on the obverse face. This is one design of twelve types of Chinese coins honoring the creatures of the Chinese Zodiac. Coins featuring the animals of the Zodiac were released during one twelve year cycle, 1988 through 1999. This coin was minted in the year 1989, and had a mintage of 1,000.
The National Emblem of China is shown on the obverse face of the coin. The National Emblem of China has been in use since 1950 as a symbol of the Communist Partyís Triumph over the Nationalist Party during the Chinese revolution. The Tiananmen Gate, or the Gate of Heavenly Peace, is surrounded by sheaves of wheat and rice. These were the products of the agricultural revolution, and represent the literal and figurative fuel of victory. Above the gate, there are five stars pictured. The top star is a representation of the Communist Party, while the four lower stars represent Maoís ìBloc of Four Social Classesî that make up the inhabitants and workers of China. One can see scrollwork on either side of the emblem. The words, ìThe Peopleís Republic of China,î appear below the Emblem and the scrollwork. Directly below these words is the year of release, 1989.
On the reverse appears the reproduction of a painting by Ma Jin (1900-1970). The artist, like many other famed Chinese painters of the twentieth century, combined Chinese techniques of detailing with Western art techniques like perspective and motion. The rendering of the painting shows a coiled snake sliding through a grassy patch. The legal tender face value is printed below the image. The snakeís tongue is displayed, showing him curiously inspecting the air around him. On the top edge of this side of the coin, one can see characters denoting the value of the coin: ìcontains .9995 Pt, one ounce of pure platinum.î At the bottom of the coin, one can see the denomination, 100 yuan.
The snake is a divine animal in China. Though the snake is seen as a mysterious creature, it is also a symbol of a quick wit, analysis and attention. Those born in the year of the snake are seen as strong in communication. They are also known to be deep thinkers, but can also tend to be hermit-like and exclude themselves from society.