This coin, minted in 2001, the Year of the Snake, is one of a series of 99.9% pure, silver lunar coins created in a flower shape. The Chinese for this shape literally translates to “the shape of a plum blossom.” The plum blossom is an emblem of spring throughout the far east, as it is one of the first trees to bloom in spring. Between 1993 and 2004, the Shenyang Mint released a total of twelve coins bearing different designs, each featuring one of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
This coin is one ounce of pure silver and is the first in the series to weigh one ounce rather than 2/3 of an ounce. It measures 40 millimeters in diameter from petal to petal. This coin bears the denomination of 10 yuan and is proof in quality. This gives the background of the coin a mirror-like finish and the raised embellishments a matte, three-dimensional quality. In all, 6800 of these one ounce, Year of the Snake coins were minted.
In Chinese culture, the snake represents a quick wit, analytical intelligence and sharp cunning. Though people born in this year are reputed to be cunning, they may also be deeply solitary creatures, much like the snake itself. They are also known to be highly analytical problem solvers who can look at a problem and see a solution that no one else in the room is capable of seeing. This is considered the wisest animal of the zodiac, and those born in this year are often great thinkers and more sagacious than their peers.
The painting depicted on the reverse of this coin has no known creator. It shows a coiled snake with its tongue tasting the air around it. The scales of the snake are very detailed and possess, as mentioned above, a three-dimensional quality. At the bottom edge of this face is the face value of the coin, 10 yuan.
On the opposing face of the coin is the Guanque Tower, which was built between 557 and 580. A stork perches on top of the tower, giving the structure its name. This structure is built on the east bank of the Yangtze in Puzhou. Because of its delicate and beautiful structure, the Guanque Tower is known as one of China’s four famous ancient towers, along with the Yellow Crane Tower, the Yueyang Pavilion and the Tengwang Pavilion. Above the tower, one can read the Chinese characters that signify, “The People’s Republic of China.” Below the tower, one can see the year of issue, 2001.
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