A series of flower-shaped lunar coins were struck by the Shenyang Mint between the years 1993 and 2004. This set of coins contains twelve flower-shaped 99.9% pure, silver coins of proof quality. This coin weighs 2/3 ounce and measures 36 millimeters in diameter. On the reverse face of each coin, one can see the animal that corresponds to the year of release. This is the 1996 Year of the Rat coin, featuring a famous Chinese painting of a rat on the reverse and the Wangjiang Tower on the obverse face. The coin bears the denomination of 10 yuan, like the other coins in the series. In all, 6800 of these particular lunar coins were produced in 1996.
Qi Baishi is the painter also memorialized on this coin. His painting, “Old Rat and Maize” is shown on the reverse face. Qi Baishi was one of the painters of the twentieth century in China who centered his work around Chinese technique. He was renowned for his self-taught and varied artistic talents, including calligraphy and woodwork. He was most fond of watercolor, which gave him the ability to portray incredible motion in his favored subjects, animals. This image shows a rat atop an ear of corn. The denomination, 10 yuan, is to the left of the rat.
The rat is the first animal of the Chinese Zodiac. Legend says that the rat was the first meeting called by the Jade Emperor, and thus bears this place in the lunar series. As the first animal, the rat symbolizes a strong leader and a talented entrepreneur. Those born in this year are said to be incredibly intelligent, cunning and even manipulative. They are able to use their leadership in a very positive way, or to get what they want out of others.
The architectural wonder that is honored on the obverse face is the Wangjiang Tower of Chengdu. This tower, translated to the River Overlook Tower, was built to honor Xue Tao (768-831). Xue was a highly respected poet at a time when writing was seen as a male pursuit. She was known for her humor, wit and flair for beautiful language and imagery. This tower forever honors her achievements. As she was particularly fond of nature, the tower is surrounded by beautiful gardens of bamboo. Like the rat that is shown on the reverse of this coin, Xue was a leader not just among women, but among poets. Above this, one can see “The People’s Republic of China.” Below is the year of release, 1996.
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