The coin displayed here was issued in 1993 by the Shanghai Mint as part of the World Cultural Figures series to commemorate the legendary Yan Emperor, or Yandi. It is the second issue of the Yandi coin, the first having been issued as part of the 1991 World Cultural Figures series, but having a lesser denomination and weight. This 1993 coin design was the only one to be produced in 1993 as part of the series, thereby making a one-coin set. It is an impressively large 5 oz gold coin, measuring 60mm diameter and having a denomination of 500 yuan. It is of proof quality and contains 99.9% pure gold. This sought after piece has a very low mintage of 99.
The Yan Emperor, or Flame Emperor, is considered to be somewhat of an ancestor to the Han Chinese of today. It is likely that he is synonymous with Shennong, or Divine Farmer, one of the legendary and semi-mythological Three Sovereigns who ruled China about 5,000 years ago. In Chinese mythology, Shennong is the father of agriculture. He is accredited with teaching the Chinese about, amongst other things, basic agricultural practises and the use of medicinal herbs and acupuncture. He is pictured on the reverse face of the coin, bearded and robed, stood with his left hand on his hip and holding a pitchfork in his right, reflecting his agricultural nature. To his left is inscribed the Chinese characters for Yandi, and to his right is inscribed the denomination, 500 yuan.
The design of the obverse face of the coin is the National Emblem of China, featuring Tiananmen Gate which leads to the Forbidden City, the ancient Imperial Palace of Beijing. Above the gate are five stars, signifying the unity of the Communist Party of China (represented by the large star) with the People (represented by the four smaller stars, one for each of the four social classes of Maoism). Above the National Emblem are the traditional Chinese characters reading: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below is the year of production, 1993.