The coin shown is a one ounce, platinum coin, produced in 1999 by the Shanghai Mint. This is one in a series of Chinese zodiac coins, produced from the years of 1988 to 1999. This coin bears the face value of 100 yuan and is struck of platinum .9995 in fineness. As 1999 was the year of the rabbit, or hare, this coin bears the image of the rabbit on the reverse face. On the obverse, one can see an image of the iconic entrance to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the inscription at the top edge, The People’s Republic of China. Below the gate is the year of production, 1999. The Shanghai Mint authorized three hundred platinum rabbit coins bearing the face value of 100 yuan for release.
On the obverse of the coin, the Tiananmen Gate makes up part of the National Emblem of China: the gate itself, above which rest five stars. The center star stands for the Chinese Communist Party. The four smaller stars represent the bloc of four social classes penned by Mao Zedong: the proletariat, the peasants, the bourgeoisie or small business owners, and the capitalists. The gate is circumscribed by a ring of rice and wheat, the natural resources that supported the Communist revolution in 1949.
One can see that the rabbit, the zodiac animal associated with the year 1999, is pictured on the reverse of the coin. The template for this rabbit comes from the painting, ìPicture of a Speeding Hare, by Xu Beihong (1895-1953). Xu was a painter reputed for his traditional Chinese ink and oil; he also had an affinity for the Western techniques of incorporating perspective, and composing with broad, expansive brush strokes. Xu became the most prominent voice in the Chinese art world, and it can safely be said that he is the primary influence on modern Chinese art and Chinese art education. This replica of Xu’s painting shows a rabbit leaping across the coin. The engraving artist was able to capture the motion and active brush strokes of Xu’s style. The face value is inscribed to the right of the hareís front paws. Above the 100 yuan mark appears a bouquet of flowers. The top edge of the reverse shows the inscription detailing the specifications of the Chinese coin: ìContains one ounce pure platinum.î
The rabbit is esteemed as an emblem of kindness, sensitivity and positive luck. It has a sweet, unassuming nature, and is known to be extremely graceful and elegant. People born in the Year of the Hare are known to be loyal friends who are honest, yet soft-spoken. Hares are also known to be artists, though Xu himself was born in the Year of the Horse.
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