China 1996 12 oz Gold Rat

1000 Yuan Proof Coin

About the China 1996 12 oz Gold Rat 1000 Yuan Proof Coin

The coin pictured above is one of twelve which make up a complete set of 1000 yuan 12 oz gold lunar coins issued between 1988 and 1999.  They are proof coins with a purity of 99.9% and have a diameter of 70mm.  The reverse face of the coins in this set feature the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac while the obverse shows various images of famous and iconic Chinese architecture.

This is the 1996 Year of the Rat coin from the set.  The obverse features the inscription “The People's Republic of China”, below which is an image of River View Tower in Chengdu.  The tower is dedicated to a female Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet, Xue Tao.  She was known for her wit and talent for writing poetry and was greatly respected by other poets of the time.  The work of female poets was often looked down upon, especially by men who dominated the poetry writing scene during the Tang Dynasty.  Xue Tao's success and the respect that she commanded in this male dominated environment is a testament to her ability.  Below this image is the year of issue, 1996.

The reverse features a painting of a rat by the celebrated Chinese artist Qi Baishi (1864-1957).  His work is characterised by playful brush strokes in watercolour.  The painting featured is called “Rat Balances Itself” and shows a rat perched precariously on the hook of a set of scales, balanced delicately by a small weight opposite.  The denomination, 1000 yuan, is inscribed above the image of the painting.  This coin has a mintage of 99.

While the rat is shunned and looked down on in western culture, in Chinese culture it is well-respected.  Due to its position as the first of the Chinese zodiac signs, the rat is thought of as a courageous leader and pioneer.  People born in the Year of the Rat require a lot of stimulation to be motivated, often by the opportunity to earn money or status.  In achieving these goals they can be somewhat calculating and selfish, but these negative traits tend to disappear with time.  The painting of the rat balancing itself embodies the calculating nature of the animal.

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