China 1997 5 oz Silver Ox

50 Yuan Proof Coin

About the China 1997 5 oz Silver Ox 50 Yuan Proof Coin

The coin above is the 1997 Year of the Ox coin from a set of 5 ounce, 99.9% pure, silver coins released by the China Mint to honor the animals and attitudes of the Chinese zodiac. The coins were released between 1987 and 1998, beginning with the rabbit and culminating with the tiger. The coins all show the animal of the year on the reverse face and a structure important to Chinese history on the obverse face. The coins measure 70 millimeters in diameter, display the face value of 50 yuan, and are proof in quality. In all, 1000 pieces of this coin were authorized for release in 1997.


On the obverse face of this coin is the Mingyuan Tower, one of the noted towers of China. The triple-gabled tower was the main building of the Jiangnan Examination School, where civil servants and government officials took imperial examinations in dynastic China. This process was streamlined by the visionary Yongle Emperor, who also commissioned the Temple of Heaven. The complex contained over 20,000 examination cubicles and is the largest structure of its variety in China. Above the building, one can see the inscription, “The People’s Republic of China,” and below it, one can see the year of issue, 1997.


On the reverse face is an image of an ox or bull, originally penned by Zhang Daqian (1899–1983). Zhang was not only a renowned and highly educated artist, he was also a crafty forger who gained money and notoriety creating counterfeit bills. Zhang was unsurprisingly versatile as a painter. He was talented at traditional Chinese technique, and he was also well known for his use of Western expressionist and impressionist techniques. This picture, “Picture of a Charging Bull,” portrays a bull standing in a field. The bull’s muscles are heavy and intimidating, aptly demonstrating the nature of the ox itself. The face value, 50 yuan, is printed just above the bull’s back.


Those born in the year of the ox are thought to be just as strong as Zhang’s picture portrays; people of the ox are reliable, hardworking, and focused. They may also be ambitious and forthright. Oxes are peaceful people, but they also possess a stubborn nature and can be seen as overly traditional or stuck in their ways.

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