China 1996 1 oz Gold Rat

100 Yuan Proof Coin

About the China 1996 1 oz Gold Rat 100 Yuan Proof Coin

The coin shown above is one of twelve which together form a complete set of 100 yuan 1 oz gold lunar coins produced between 1988 and 1999.  The reverse face of the coins in the set feature paintings of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.  The obverse of the coins bear the inscription in Chinese characters: “The People's Republic of China”.  Above the inscription on all coins in the set (except for the Year of the Dragon coin issued in 1988 which shows an image of the Temple of Heaven) is an image of the National Emblem of China.  The year of production is inscribed at the bottom of the obverse face.

This coin is the 1996 Year of the Rat coin of the set.  It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 32mm.  It has a mintage of 1,800.

The National Emblem of China, featured on the obverse of the coin, shows a picture of Tiananmen Gate below one large and four small stars.  The image is surrounded by sheaves of wheat and rice.  The emblem is symbolic of the Communist revolution.  The large star stands for the Communist Party of China, while the four smaller ones stand for the four social classes defined in Maoist philosophical thought.  The wheat and rice symbolise the agrarian nature of Mao's revolution.  Tiananmen Gate marks the entrance to the Forbidden City, the centre of Chinese dynastic political power.

The reverse features a painting by the renowned Chinese artist Qi Baishi (1864-1957).  His painting style is characterised by playful brushstrokes, mainly in watercolour.  He is known for the delicate and intricate way in which he painted the small details in nature.  Unlike many of his contemporaries, his work shows no signs of western influence.  The painting featured on the reverse shows a rat standing on its hind legs, staring up at the flame of an oil lamp.  It is entitled “Old Rat with Oil Lamp”.  The denomination, 100 yuan, is inscribed below the image.  The top left edge of the reverse face bears an inscription in Chinese characters pertaining to the specifications of the coin.  It reads: “Contains 1 oz pure gold purity .999 1 oz Au”.

Because of its position as the first of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, the rat is a symbol of leadership and embodies a pioneering spirit in Chinese culture.  People born in the Year of the Rat are traditionally seen as intelligent and ambitious.  Strong-willed and manipulative, they make great leaders and are highly driven by the possibility of achievement and reward.

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