In 1995 the Chinese government issued a four coin set commemorating notable figures from the historical novel written by Luo Guanzhong entitled The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The coins consist of .999 fine gold while being 32mm in diameter. All four coins carry a face value of 100 Yuan. The reverse side on these coins depicts a portrait of Luo. The figures shown on the coins’ obverse sides are Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhuge Liang, and Liu Bei. These coins were each allotted a mintage of 1500.
The portrait of Liu shows him wearing headwear similar to that of a bandana and a robe that gently wraps around his neck. Directly beneath this image of Liu are the Chinese characters that translate as the “Peoples’ Republic of China”. Beginning at coin’s left side, arching around the coin’s upper edge to the three o’clock position are a series of Chinese characters that translate loosely as Lou Guanzhong and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Guan, Zhang, and Liu were sworn brothers who agreed to support the grumbling Han Dynasty to their deaths if necessary. Zhuge was employed by Liu as a military tactician and leader of the Shu Han Kingdom. The coin illustrating Zhuge shows the Chancellor of the ancient Chinese state of Shu Han seated on a throne. The throne is highly decorated with circular ornaments across its base. This throne possesses wheels, one of which is visible toward the bottom left portion of the coin. Zhuge is dressed in a long flowing robe and brimless headwear. To the right of the coin is the number 100 followed the Chinese character which signifies the Yuan. In the background is a range of mountains that extend across the coin. There is a patch of grass on either side of the throne. At the coin’s extreme left side are three Chinese characters which spell out the name Zhuge Liang.
The coin that commemorates Liu shows the general highly decorated in an oversized flowing robe and headwear that closely resemble a graduation cap found in Western cultures. Behind Liu, in the background are five battle flags. The bottom right portion of the coin depicts its face value via the number 100 followed by the Chinese character for the Yuan. The Bottom left portion of the coin shows two Chinese characters which spell the name Liu Bei.
General Zhang is depicted on a decorated horse riding off into battle. He is seen wearing traditional Chinese leather padded armor protecting his entire body while holding a spear in his left hand. His right arm is outstretched as though giving instructions to his men. His name is spelled using two Chinese characters to the right of the coin while the left side shows the number 100 followed by the Chinese character signifying the Yuan.
The coin illustrating Guan shows the heroic general seated while reading with the aid of candlelight. He is pictured donned in a long flowing robe with headwear having a small ornamental design extending from his forehead. The candle to the left of the coin (Guan’s right) has been placed on table behind a few books. The right side of the coin shows the spelling of Guan Yu in two Chinese characters.