China 1994 1/4 oz Gold Unicorn
25 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1994 1/4 oz Gold Unicorn 25 Yuan Proof Coin
The above coin is a 1/4 ounce, 99.9% pure, gold Chinese unicorn coin. It is one of thirteen unicorn coins produced in 1994 by the People’s Bank of China. This particular coin was produced with a face value of 25 yuan, like all of the ? oz gold unicorn coins – of which there are three in total. In total, 5100 of these coins were minted in 1994. Because this is a proof coin, the frosted appearance of the raised decorations stand out against a mirrored background.
Each coin shows two types of unicorns, one on each side. The obverse of each coin pictures the Chinese unicorn or Qilin (chee-lin). The Qilin is a mythical Chinese creature thought to bring prosperity and peace. Though it may appear somewhat similar to the Western unicorn, its features and overall meaning vary. The Qilin is believed to have the head of a Chinese dragon topped with antlers, the scales of a fish, and the tail of a lion. Stories of the Qilin became widespread during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), during which time Zhenge, the famed eunuch admiral, imported the giraffe from Africa. The association between the rare and beautiful giraffe and the mystical Chinese unicorn was likely established because of this import and the hubbub that it caused. In drawings of the giraffe from the Ming Dynasty, one can see the resemblance it bears to the mythical Qilin. The giraffe has hooves, textured fur and stubby antlers, which perhaps influenced the association. The Qilin, as displayed on this coin, is galloping across a cloud of smoke. A small boy is robes is pictured riding the Qilin, and in his hands, he carries flowers. Above the unicorn and boy are the characters that mean “The Peoples Republic of China.” Next to the unicorn is the year that the coin was produced, 1994. All of the unicorn coins minted in this year feature the same, or similar, images.
On the reverse, the European unicorn is shown. It is a white horse with the beard of a goat, a shining white coat and mane, and the pluming tail of a lion. The unicorn of the West has its origins in Greek and Roman mythology. It became popular as a symbol of plenty, royalty and purity during the middle ages in Europe. The unicorn was believed to be a real animal, albeit one that was nearly impossible to find and catch. The unicorn was believed to be one of the kings of the animals, perhaps giving rise to the image bearing the tail of a lion. The horn itself was thought to possess the power of healing, stemming from the original Greek myth that touted the unicorn’s horn as a horn of plenty, or cornucopia. On the Chinese coin, the Western unicorn appears with its head proudly turned to one side, as if to show off its spiraled horn and curling beard. as a white horse with a goat-like beard and a lion’s tail. It has one hoof raised and hovers over a field of flowers. The denomination is printed to the left of the unicorn, and the wording, “Sino-American Lucky Mascot” is printed above the unicorn. The English word, “unicorn” is printed in all capital letters in parentheses alongside the Chinese characters.