5 oz Gold Lunar Coins
The 5 oz gold lunar round series comprises twelve 500 yuan, 5 oz, gold lunar coins issued between 1988 and 1999. All twelve coins are proof coins with a purity of 99.9% and have a diameter of 60mm. The coins in this set are particularly rare, for example the coins issued in the years 1992 to 1999 only have a mintage of 99 each. The obverse of these coins displays pictures of famous ancient Chinese architecture with the coin's respective year of production inscribed underneath. The reverse faces feature renderings of paintings of one of each of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals.
The buildings and architecture featured on the obverse faces of the coins include three different sections of the Great Wall; five famous pavilions or towers; Shanghai's Garden of Happiness; the city wall of Xi'an; the Yonghe Temple in Beijing; and the Dacheng Hall of the Temple of Confucius in Qufu. These constructions appear throughout China's dynastic history and represent some of China's greatest architectural, engineering, and cultural achievements from its past. They date all the way from the time of the first dynasty to unite China - the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), to the last dynasty to rule China - the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD).
The original animal paintings are mostly by famous 20th Century Chinese artists, varying in style, but usually by artists known for their skillful combination of traditional eastern and modern western artistic techniques. One of the artists, Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), is the earliest of all the artists whose work is featured on the coins, and notable in that he is the only western artist in the set. He was an Italian Jesuit missionary to China from 1715 and painted at the court of Emperor Qianlong. The other noteworthy artist featured in the set is Qi Baishi (1864-1957) - notable because unlike most of the others his work shows no sign of western influence. Two of his paintings are depicted on the coins, also making him the most featured artist in the set.
The Chinese zodiac, or shengxiao, holds particular significance for the Chinese even today. Many Chinese still believe in the characteristics and superstitions associated with the zodiac signs, some even use the theory of compatibility of certain zodiac animals to influence their choice of partner or friends.
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, based on the Chinese lunar calendar and traditional Chinese astrology rather than the Gregorian calendar, is associated with a particular animal. Those people born in a certain year are believed to possess the characteristics, fortunes, and personalities corresponding to the zodiac animal associated with that particular year.