The coin pictured above is one of six 2000 Beijing Opera coins. Of those coins produced in this year, one is gold and five are silver. The reverse of the coins in this series show colour images of characters from the Beijing Opera. The obverse of the coins all bear the inscription: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below this inscription on all coins in the group is an image of the Grand Opera Tower at Beijing’s Summer Palace. Below this is the year of issue, 2000.
The Grand Opera Tower is situated in the Garden of Virtue and Harmony of the Summer Palace in Beijing. The tower was built during the Qing Dynasty to celebrate the 60th birthday of Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) who effectively ruled China between 1861 until her death in 1908. The tower was built especially for the performance of operas to Cixi, and the special construction of the tower allows for a number of visual effects to be achieved on stage, including flooding, heavenly beings descending from Heaven, and spirits ascending from Hell.
This is the 50 yuan, 1/2 oz gold coin of the series produced in 2000. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 27mm. It has a mintage of 8,000.
The reverse of this coin shows a colour image of the opera character and historical figure, Liang Hongyu (1102-1135) with a war drum. Liang Hongyu was a famous Chinese female general during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Legend has it that she died heroically in battle against the Jurchens on 6th October 1135. Having been mortally wounded in the abdomen she forced her intestines back into her body and led her final charge against the enemy, even managing to break the enemy formation before she succumbed to her wounds. To the right of the image on the reverse face in Chinese characters is inscribed: “China’s Beijing Opera, Liang Hongyu.” The denomination is inscribed to the left of the image.