This coin is one of the twenty-one panda coins released by the Chinese Mint in 1994. This is the 99.9% pure, silver, five ounce coin. This coin features a scene of two pandas on the reverse face of the coin, and a depiction of the Temple of Heaven on the obverse face. The obverse face also shows, “The People’s Republic of China,” printed in large Chinese characters at the very top of the coin, and the year of issue at the bottom. Inscribed on the reverse face are the specifications of the coin: “50 yuan, 5oz, .999 Ag.” This coin, as noted in the specifications, weighs 5 ounces and bears the face value of 50 yuan. It measures 70 millimeters in diameter.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the main building of the Temple of Heaven. This is the building shown on the obverse face. Completed in 1420 under the supervision of the Emperor Yongle. The Yongle Emperor also succeeded in moving the capital of China from Nanjing to Beijing, and therein constructed the Imperial City. The Temple of Heaven was where he and subsequent emperors went during winter solstice to pray for a strong harvest over the next year. This was an important ritual, as it yearly reconnected the emperor with heaven and its good graces.
The image on the reverse face of the coin is two pandas, each sitting by a stream. The two pandas face one another across the stream. One is seen climbing a tree, while the other munches happily on bamboo. Bamboo, a symbol of tranquility and 99% of a wild panda’s diet, appears on many Chinese panda coins. The panda itself is seen as a representation of yin and yang in the same body, due to its black and white coloring. It is also a symbol of diplomatic relations, as the panda was given as a gift to many foreign rulers throughout China’s dynastic period. In all, 3000 of these coins were minted in 1994.
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