The coin pictured is one of twelve which make a complete set of 100 yuan 1 oz gold lunar coins produced between 1988 and 1999. The reverse face of the coins in the set feature paintings of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The obverse face of the coins bears the inscription: “The People’s Republic of China” in Chinese characters. Above the inscription on all coins in the set (except for the Year of the Dragon coin produced in 1988 which shows an image of the Temple of Heaven below the inscription) is a rendering of the National Emblem of China. The year of issue is inscribed at the bottom of the obverse face.
This is the 1997 Year of the Ox coin of the series. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 32mm. It has a mintage of 1,600.
The obverse features a rendering of the National Emblem of China. The emblem is rich in symbolism relating to the Communist revolution. Tiananmen Gate is shown below five stars, four small and one large. The four small stars stand for the four Maoist social classes. The large star, around which the four smaller ones are positioned, represents the Communist Party of China. Surrounding the image is an outer ring of sheaves of wheat and an inner ring of sheaves of rice. These crops symbolise Mao’s agricultural revolution.
The reverse features a painting by the 20th Century Chinese artist Huang Zhou (1925-1997). Besides being a painter, he was also known as a prominent social activist and collector. His work shows heavy influence from the north-east of China where he was posted for a time with the People’s Liberation Army. The painting shown on the reverse shows an image of a bull drinking from a river. The denomination, 100 yuan, is inscribed below the image. The top right edge of the reverse face bears an inscription in Chinese characters detailing the specifications of the coin. It reads: “Contains 1 oz pure gold purity .999 1 oz Au”.
The ox, a powerful animal in the Chinese zodiac, symbolises prosperity and wealth. It is considered to have a hard-working, persevering, but stubborn nature and is highly self-reliant. People who are born in the Year of the Ox are traditionally thought of as having resolute and dependable character traits, but on the down side can be narrow-minded and somewhat inflexible and short-tempered.
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