12 oz Gold Lunar Coins
There are twelve 12 oz gold lunar coins each 1000 yuan in legal tender face value issued between 1988 and 1999. Each of the coins is a proof coin with a purity of 99.9% and a diameter of 70mm. The coins in this set are particularly rare, for example the coins produced in the years 1992 to 1999 have a mintage of only 99 each. While the coins issued in the other years have a slightly higher mintage, they number in the hundreds rather than the thousands, still making them relatively hard to come by. The obverse of these coins displays images of culturally or historically significant Chinese architecture and buildings. The reverse faces of the twelve coins in the set each show a painting of one of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals corresponding to the year of production. The first coin in the set is the 1988 Year of the Dragon coin.
The culturally and historically significant pieces of architecture which appear on the obverse faces embody 2 millennia of Chinese cultural and architectural achievement. The earliest of these monumental achievements and perhaps the most impressive is the Great Wall, the original construction of which began during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC). The latest of these constructions is the Yonghe Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist temple built in Beijing in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
The artworks featured on the reverse faces of the coins are also an embodiment of recent Chinese artistic achievement. Most of the paintings are by renowned and celebrated 20th Century Chinese artists who are particularly noted for their incorporation of western artistic principals, such as perspective and form, into traditional Chinese art forms. Three pieces are by Qi Baishi (1864-1957), making him the artist whose work is the most featured in the set. His work appears on the rat, snake, and rooster coins. However his work stands out from the others in that his style remains uninfluenced by western techniques.
Fortune-telling and astrology have played a significant role in the long history and culture of China. While they no longer influence political and military decisions as they used to thousands of years ago, the Chinese zodiac, or shengxiao, still has a surprising level of influence on the social interactions of Chinese people, many of whom still believe that the zodiac animal corresponding to the year of someone's birth truly reflects that person's personality and their social compatibility with others.
There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and the pig. Each lunar year corresponds to a certain animal in order, and repeats itself on a twelve year cycle. Each animal has its own set of characteristics which are said to represent the personality of those born in that particular year.