The coin seen here is one of twelve which together make a complete series of scallop-shaped gold coins all weighing 1/2 oz and commemorating the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. They were issued between 1993 and 2004. On the reverse of every coin is inscribed the face value and a rendering of a painting by a famous Chinese artist of the zodiac animal corresponding to the coin’s year of issue.
Shown is the Year of the Rabbit coin from the series. Produced at the Shenyang mint in 1999, it is a proof coin with a mintage of 2,300 pieces. Like the other coins of the series, it is 27mm in diameter. Its composition is 91.6% pure gold.
The artist whose work is featured on the reverse face is Ma Jin (1900-1970) who was involved heavily in the artistic circles of Beijing. His style was a creative integration of western and traditional Chinese styles. The painting shows a solitary hare or rabbit sitting on a lakeside beside a shrub. To the left and slightly above the rabbit is inscribed the denomination, 100 yuan.
The design on the obverse shows an image of Shanghai’s Garden of Happiness with the inscription “The People’s Republic of China” above it. The year of production is inscribed below the image. The idea of the Garden of Happiness was conceived in 1559 by a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) official, Pan Yunduan, for his father to enjoy in his twilight years, but construction only began in 1577. The cost of the upkeep eventually impoverished the family.
Of the twelve animals, the rabbit holds the fourth position in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. A symbol of luck and peace, and signifying such personality traits as creativity, sensitivity, and compassion, the rabbit is a popular zodiac sign.
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