From 1988 to 1999, the China Mint authorized a series of coins in platinum, silver, and gold, to be produced. These coins honor the Chinese Zodiac, and each coin design features the animal of that year. In 1996, the Year of the Rat, the coins feature the rat on one side and the National Emblem of China on the other side. All of the renderings featured on these coins were created by Chinese artists.
This coin is the Year of the Rat coin. It is 99.95% pure platinum, and bears the face value of 100 yuan. The specifications of the coin appear on the side featuring the rat: “.9995 Pt, one ounce of Pure Platinum.” This side also shows the denomination. On the obverse, one can see the characters representing, “The People’s Republic of China,” and the inscription of the year, 1996. In 1996, 300 of these coins were created.
The National Emblem of China was developed in 1950 directly after the end of the revolution. The Emblem features the Tiananmen Gate, or the Gate of Heavenly Peace. This Gate is located in Beijing and leads to the Forbidden City. In the Emblem, the gate is surrounded by bunches of wheat and rice, the fuel of Mao’s revolution. Five stars appear above the gate. The largest star is the Communist Party, while the four remaining stars are the people of China in their different class systems. Together, these symbols pay homage both to Imperial China and contemporary Communist China.
On the reverse face of the coin, one can see the painting “Old Rat with an Oil Lamp,” created by Qi Bashi. Qi was a renowned artist who lived in China between 1864 and 1957. His distinctive painting style features strong brush strokes and the use of watercolor. He also uses delicate detailing and intricacy. Qi used primarily Chinese techniques for his paintings, unlike many of the other famed artists of his time, who combined Western technique with Chinese technique. The copy of the painting shown is of a rat perched on its back legs, glancing at the flame of a lamp. One can see the detail that Qi employed in the small, delicate features of the rat.
Unlike the negative thoughts of the rat in Western culture, in China, the rat is revered as a leader and pioneer. Those born in the Year of the Rat are thought to be shrewd, meticulous, capable and intense. The weaknesses of this sign are thought to be duplicity, criticism, ruthlessness and intolerance. Overall, the rat is a very strong animal in the Chinese Zodiac and is revered for its potential as a victorious ruler, driven by the desire for validation and achievement.
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