The coin pictured is one of twelve which make up a complete set of 500 yuan 5 oz gold lunar coins issued between 1988 and 1999. They are proof coins with a purity of 99.9% and have a diameter of 60mm. The reverse face of the coins in this set feature the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac while the obverse shows various famous Chinese buildings.
This is the 1996 Year of the Rat coin from the set. The obverse features the inscription “The People’s Republic of China”, below which is an image of River View Tower in Chengdu. The tower is dedicated to a female Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet, Xue Tao. Female poets were rare during the Tang Dynasty, and female poets who were respected by their male contemporaries were even rarer. Xue Tao was one such female poet. Below this is the year of production, 1996.
The reverse features a painting of a rat by the celebrated Chinese artist Qi Baishi (1864-1957). His work is characterised by playful brush strokes in watercolour. The painting featured is called “Picture of Rat Eating” and shows a rat crouched nibbling at a berry. It is pictured to the right of a bunch of berries. The denomination, 500 yuan, is inscribed above the rendering of the painting. This coin has a mintage of 99.
The rat is considered a natural leader, pioneer, and winner. They are thought of as pragmatic and well-organised contributing to their leadership skills. While they are ambitious, charismatic, and diligent, they can be manipulative, critical, controlling, and cruel in the pursuit of their ambitions. Those born in the Year of the Rat can be considered somewhat aggressive and power-hungry, but they tend to mellow with age.