Between the years of 1988 and 1999, the China Mint released sets of coins featuring the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. From 1989-1999, each set shows the same obverse face, the National Emblem of China surrounded by scrollwork, below which appear the words, “The People’s Republic of China” and the year of issue. The 1988 dragon is the only coin whose obverse face differs; it bears the Temple of Heaven. The coin pictured above was made to pay homage to the Year of the Goat, 1991. The side of the coin featuring the animal shows a replica of a famed painting of goats, as well as the specifications of the coin and its face value. It reads: “.999 Ag, contains one ounce of pure silver.” This coin bears the face value of 10 yuan. In all, 8,100 of these silver coins were minted in 1991.
The National Emblem of China, featured on the obverse, is a rendering of the Tiananmen Gate encircled by sheaves of wheat and rice and crowed by a series of five stars. The wheat and rice refer to the agricultural component to Mao’s revolution, and the largest of the five stars represents the communist party. The other four stars stand for the four social classes outlined in Maoist philosophy. Below the Emblem are the Chinese characters that can be translated to “The People’s Republic of China.” The year of minting, 1991, appears below these characters.
The reverse face of the coin pictures a rendering of “Picture of Four Goats,” painted by Chen Juzhong. The coin only shows three of the goats Chen originally painted. The fourth would have been pictured frolicking in the background, but would have appeared too crowded on the coin. Chen was a painter during the Song Dynasty and worked in Nanjing as a court painter. He was known for his horse paintings. This particular painting shows goats playing together in a pasture. Above the goats are the specifications of the coin: “contains one ounce of pure silver, .999 Ag.” Below the goats, one can see the face value of the coin: 10 yuan.
In China, the goat is a symbol of motherly love, sweetness and peacefulness. Those born in this year are said to possess these qualities in one way or another. They may be shy and sweet, or very tender and caring. Goats may also be artistic and very creative. The negative traits one may see in a goat are indecisiveness and worry.
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