China 1994 5 oz Silver Unicorn
50 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1994 5 oz Silver Unicorn 50 Yuan Proof Coin
The coin pictured above is a 99.9% pure, five ounce, silver Chinese unicorn coin in the denomination of 50 yuan. Thirteen unique unicorn coins were created in 1994 in China. In all total, 1500 silver 50 yuan silver unicorn coins were authorized for production in this year. As a proof coin, this coin has been struck multiple times, making the embossed unicorns stand out against the mirror like background.
Each coin in this series depicts two unicorns: the Western unicorn and the Eastern unicorn. The obverse displays the Eastern unicorn, or Qilin (pronounced chee-lin). The reverse shows the Western unicorn. The Qilin may not appear to the Western viewer as a traditional unicorn. In fact, it looks more like a dragon, with its fierce expression, sharp teeth and whiskers. It also has scales like a dragon, antlers like a deer and the flowing tail of a lion. The giraffe, imported to China around 1414 by the famous eunuch warrior Zhenge, was the original inspiration for the medieval Chinese Qilin. Several drawings and paintings of Zhenge’s giraffes were circulated in China; these giraffes were referred to as “Qilins.” The other mythical features fell into place after that time. This side of the coin features the Qilin in its later form with its chimeric features. A small, regal boy rides the Qilin and stares into the distance. In his hands, he carries flowers. The Qilin himself rides atop a cloud, as if emerging from a mist. Above this embossed image are the characters that mean “The People’s Reublic of China.” Directly below the cloud upon which the Qilin stands is the year the coin was made, 1994.
The other side of the coin shows the European unicorn as a horse with a flowing tail, a beard and the famous spiral horn. The unicorn has its roots in Greek history, when travelers believed that they saw the unicorn in India. The myth of the unicorn evolved so that its horn was associated with plenty and was thought to possess the power to counteract poisons. The unicorn itself was thought to be a proud and royal creature, very difficult to pursue. As such unicorn-related items, such as a cup made from “unicorn horn” were very expensive and quite popular in the middle ages in Europe. The unicorn pictured on this Chinese coin represents the noble animal just as it was imagined. It turns its horse’s head to the side to show off its long horn, and it perches haughtily on a bed of flowers with one leg raised. Its neck bears a garland of flowers. The denomination of the coin, “50 Yuan,” is printed to the left of the unicorn, and the wording for “Sino-American Lucky Mascot” is printed just above the unicorn’s head. In parentheses next to this phrase, the English word “unicorn” appears in all capital letters.