The coin pictured is one of nine peacock coins issued in 1993 forming a series featuring ancient Chinese paintings. Of the coins produced in 1993, five are gold and four are silver. The obverse of the coins in this series all bear the inscription in Chinese characters: “The People’s Republic of China”, below which is an image of the Hall of Supreme Harmony of the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Below the picture is inscribed the year of issue, 1993.
The Imperial Palace, also widely known as the Forbidden City, is located in the heart of Beijing to the north side of Tiananmen Square. It was built in the early 15th Century during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as part of a set of major construction projects commissioned towards the start of the dynasty by the Emperor Yongle (reigned 1402-1424). The Hall of Supreme Harmony was at the centre of Ming and Qing (1644-1912) politics for nearly 500 years. The Hall served as the setting for imperial wedding ceremonies and enthronements for that period. During the Ming, court was also held there, but during the Qing dynasty it was reserved for ceremonial events.
The reverse of the coins in the series feature rendering of a painting of two peacocks. The picture shows two peacocks, one showing off its magnificent array of feathers. The other walks in front with its head turned to see the impressive display. They are depicted in a garden among plants and flowers to the left of a tree. The painting is a piece by Guiseppe Castiglione (1688-1766) called “Picture of Peacock Displaying Tail Feathers”. The denomination is inscribed above and to the left of the picture.
Castiglione, also called Lang Shining, came from Italy to China in 1715 as a Jesuit missionary. He painted for the Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1735-1796) during the Qing dynasty (1368-1644). While in China he painted portraits of the Emperor and Empress as well as animals and plants. His painting shows a creative synthesis of both Western techniques and traditional Chinese methods – a style that was imitated by other European painters, forming a new school of painting. He spent most of his life in China and died in Beijing, aged 77.
This is the 150 yuan, 20 oz silver coin of the series. It is a proof coin with a fineness of 99.9% and has a mintage of 500. The coin has a diameter of 100mm. The bottom edge of the reverse face bears the inscription: “20 oz Ag .999”, detailing the specifications of the coin.
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