This coin is one of twelve different zodiac coins, minted between the years of 1988 and 1999. This particular coin is one ounce, proof quality, 99.95% pure, platinum, and was minted in 1998, the Year of the Tiger. Three hundred of these coins were authorized for release by the China Mint in that year.
Each of these coins bears the National Emblem of China, the Tiananmen Gate encircled by sheaves of wheat and rice and topped by a configuration of five stars. This is shown on the obverse face of the coin. The National Emblem of China has been in use as a symbol since 1950, directly after the communist revolution reached its final culmination. The five stars are a representation of Maoist philosophy. The large star symbolizes the Communist Party, while the four stars below it are symbols for the four classes posited by Maoist philosophy. Below the National Emblem appear the characters meaning, “The People’s Republic of China,” and the year of production, “1998.” The Tiananmen Gate, originally constructed in 1420, is one of the entrances to the Forbidden City in Beijing.
On the reverse face, one can see the copy of a painting, “Picture of a Tiger Roaring,” created by Zhang Shanzai. Particularly reputable for his paintings of tigers. Zhang was known for his focus on realistic depiction, use of perspective, and portrayal of emotion. The image shows a tiger standing on a cliff, turning its head as if to chuff. Below the tiger’s head, one can see the face value of the coin, 100 yuan. Above the tiger, one can see the specifications of the coin: “contains one ounce pure platinum, .9995 Pt.”
The tiger is often pictured as one of the four great animals of Chinese mythology (along with the tortoise, the dragon and the phoenix). Those born in the year of the tiger are said to be spontaneous and competitive. The tiger was known to be the king of the animals, similar to the lion in Western myth. The tiger is also thought to be the guardian of the Western elements and a harbinger of war. Because of its association with war, the tiger has often been associated with the highest level general in China, or with the Secretary of Defense.