This coin is one ounce of pure silver, .999 in fineness, with a legal tender face value of ten yuan. This coin was authorized for minting by the People’s Bank of China in 1989, the Year of the Snake. It is one of twelve simliar coins created between the years of 1988 and 1999, a full twelve year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. Each coin features one of the animals of the zodiac on one side, and the National Emblem of China on the opposing side (save for the set of dragon coins). This particular coin had a minting of 6,000.
On the reverse face, one can see the snake, which pays homage to the Year of the Snake as well as the snake’s place in Chinese culture. The snake has long been a symbol of quick intelligence and strong analysis. It is also considered to be a divine and magical animal. People born in this year can tend to be shy and reserved, even somewhat isolated. They are also known to be outstanding verbal communicators, and have a talent for deep thinking.They are known to have quick wits and quick tongues. The painting shown on this coin is a reproduction of Ma Jin’s work. The rendering shows a snake slithering through tall grass, his tongue flicking out to taste the air. The top edge of the coin shows the characters that translate to, “.999 Ag, contains one ounce of pure silver.” Below the snake, one can see the denomination, ten yuan.
On the front of the coin appears the Emblem of China. The Emblem features a symbol of Imperial China, the Tiananmen Gate, originally built in 1420. It is still the main entrance to the Forbidden City. The gate is encircled with bunches of wheat and rice, giving reference to the Agricultural Revolution, and the fuel that drove it forward. Also inside the circle of rice and wheat are five stars, the largest of which is a visual symbol of the Communist Party and its dominance in the country. The other four stars are the social classes that compose the Chinese population. These classes were outlined by Mao himself. The characters translating to, “The People’s Republic of China” appear below the snake. Below this phrase is the year of issue.