Shown is one of twelve gold lunar scallop coins which make a collectable series. The coins in the series all weigh 1/2 oz and were produced over twelve years, starting in 1993. The coins in the series were produced at the Shenyang mint and are all scallop-shaped coins of proof quality. They have a diameter of 27mm.
The coin pictured here is the 100 yuan Year of the Ox coin issued in 1997. It has a mintage of 2,300 and contains 91.6% pure gold. Its reverse face features “Picture of an Ox”, an artwork by the famous painter Ma Jin (1900－1970), and its obverse features the Ming Yuan Tower at the Confucius Temple in Nanjing.
The Ming Yuan Tower is the central hall of the famous Jiangnan Examination School where aspiring civil servants of feudal China would take their imperial examinations. The tower has 20,644 examination booths and was built initially built during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). It was later expanded during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. The image of the tower appears beneath the inscription: “The People’s Republic of China”, and above the year of issue, 1997.
Ma Jin was a skilled painter of horses in particular and was a follower of the artistic methods of Guiseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), the Qing Dynasty court artist and Italian Jesuit missionary. The painting rendered on the reverse face of the coin shows a standing ox surrounded by grass. The face value is inscribed underneath the ox.
Wealth and prosperity are embodied in the sign of the ox, making it a powerful animal in the Chinese zodiac. It is the second animal in the twelve animal cycle. Chinese astrology sees those born in the Year of the Ox as dependable, resolute, and diligent people who can, however, often be shy and stuck in their ways.
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