In 1993, the China Mint released a set of nine coins featuring an ancient Chinese painting, five in gold and four in silver. This is the 100 yuan, one ounce, 99.9% pure, gold coin of the series. It measures 32 millimeters in diameter and is proof in quality. The proof quality means that the coin was struck multiple times. This creation process gives the signature mirror-like finish to the background of the coin and the matte or raised appearance to the embellishments.
Each of these coins shows the Hall of Supreme Harmony, located in the Imperial City in Beijing. Above the Hall is “The People’s Republic of China” in Chinese characters, and below it is imprinted, 1993, the year of release. On the reverse of the coin is a painting by Guiseppe Castiglione, “Picture of a Peacock Displaying Tail Feathers.”
The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest building in the Forbidden City. This is one of the halls that make up the outer court of the Forbidden City. During the Ming Dynasty, emperors would hold court in this building to discuss state affairs. In the Qing Dynasty, the Hall was used for ceremonial purposes like weddings, while imperial affairs war moved to the inner court of the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was commissioned by the Yongle Emperor, a visionary of his time, and was built between 1406 and 1420.
“Picture of a Peacock Displaying Tail Feathers” shows two peacocks, one fanning its feathers and the other with its tail feathers on the ground. The two peacocks are surrounded by trees and flowers. This scene was rendered from an ancient Chinese painting. It shows a peaceful and idyllic scene. The peacock is meant to represent royalty. Above the fan of feathers is 100 yuan, the denomination of the coin. Below the other peacock are the specifications of the coin, “1oz Au .999.”
Guiseppe Castiglione, the painter of “Picture of a Peacock,” was an Italian missionary who came to China in 1715. He named himself Lang Shining upon his arrival in China, and gained the favor of Emperor Qianlong as a court painter. Castiglione adopted some Chinese style in his paintings, and excelled at painting animals and natural scenery. Castiglione was also a renowned architect who aided in the design of the Western-style Palaces at the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace. In all, 1200 of these coins were minted in 1993.
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