Nineteen designs of Chinese panda coins were authorized for release by the China Mint in 1991. Fourteen of these designs were wrought in gold, and five in silver. The obverse face bears the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the reverse face shows a peaceful scene of pandas, a highly symbolic and important animal in China. This coin is weighs 5 ounces and is 70 millimeters in diameter. It bears the denomination of 50 yuan on the reverse.
On the obverse face of this coin, one can clearly see the main altar of the Temple of Heaven, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The Temple of Heaven is a Taoist temple, dedicated to supplication for a strong harvest over five centuries of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The triple gabled Hall of Prayer is made entirely of wood, with no metal nails used, and is set atop three great slabs of marble. At the top edge of the obverse face of the coin are the Chinese characters signifying, “The People’s Republic of China,” and below the Hall of Prayer appears the year of release, 1991.
On the reverse face of the coin is imprinted a scene of two pandas. The panda on the right is poised as if to drink from a stream below, while the panda on the left side of the coin curiously watches from a ledge above. The pandas are surrounded by bamboo, a plant that represents tranquility in Chinese lore. The panda itself represents diplomacy, as pandas were often given as gifts of good spirit to the royalty of other countries. Above the pandas appear the details of the coin, “contains 99.9% pure silver, 5oz Ag, 50 yuan.” In all, 4,000 of these 50 yuan, five ounce, silver panda coins were minted in the year of 1991.
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