The coin shown is one of five coins issued in 2002 to commemorate the cave art at the Longmen Grottoes. The series of five coins comprises two gold and three silver coins, all of proof quality and 99.9% purity.
The Longmen Grottoes are a network of caves which lie 12km to the south of Luoyang in Henan province and contain some of the world’s finest Chinese Buddhist art. Some 1,400 caves at the site contain as many as 100,000 statues of all different varieties, the tallest being 17m high, while the shortest is a mere 25mm tall. The area is also home to 2,500 stelae (or commemorative stone slabs) and inscriptions and more than sixty pagodas. Much of the art is carved into the limestone rock itself and was, at some point in the past, painted. The earliest pieces date from 493 AD.
The coin pictured is the 5 oz gold coin of the series. It was struck at the Shanghai mint with a mintage of 288 and is legal tender of the People’s Republic of China. It has a face value of 2000yuan and a diameter of 60mm.
Featured on the obverse face is a rendering of the shrine to the Lushena Giant Buddha of the Fengxian Si cave at the Longmen Grottoes. Work on the Fengxian Si cave began in 672 AD. The shrine is 39m x 35m and features a 17.14m high statue of the Vairocana Buddha – the central focus of the rendering on the obverse face of the coin. Surrounding the Vairocana Buddha are four other smaller statues. Above the rendering is the inscription in Chinese characters which reads: “Chinese Cave Art: Longmen”. Below the rendering appears another inscription in Chinese: “The People’s Republic of China”. Beneath this is the year of issue, 2002.
Featured on the reverse face is an image of an emperor, surrounded by several attendants, saluting Buddha. At the bottom of the coin face is inscribed the face value, 2000yuan.