China 1994 1/10 oz Gold Unicorn
10 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1994 1/10 oz Gold Unicorn 10 Yuan Proof Coin
The coin pictured above is a 1/10 ounce, 99.9% pure, gold Chinese unicorn coin which possesses a 10 yuan denomination. It is one of thirteen unicorn coins produced in 1994 by the China Mint. Chinese unicorn coins were created between the years 1994 and 1997. The People’s Republic of China authroized 5100 of the gold 10 yuan unicorn coins in 1994 for distribution. As this is a coin of proof quality, the background of the coin has a mirror-like surface, while the embossed images have a more matte or frosted appearance. This makes the unicorns and surrounding decorations stand out against the background.
All of the coins display two types of unicorns: the Eastern Unicorn or Qilin (pronounced chee-lin) and the Western unicorn. The obverse shows the Chinese unicorn (Qilin), and the reverse displays the Western unicorn. The Qilin differs in both appearance and symbolism from the Western unicorn. The Qilin’s body is in the shape of a horse, but it has the head of a dragon topped with the antlers of a deer, the scales of a fish for skin, the hooves of a bull, and the tail of a lion. The Qilin may also have been associated with another animal -- the giraffe -- which was imported to China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by the great admiral Zhenge. The rarity of the giraffe in China may have given rise to the belief in the lucky nature of the Qilin. The side of the coin featuring the Eastern unicorn is inscribed with the characters, “The People’s Republic of China.” The image of a young boy riding the Qilin, and the year the coin was minted, 1994, are directly below these characters. The Qilin hovers above a puff of smoke, while the boy wears traditional Chinese garb and carries flowers in his right hand. All of the coins in this series feature the same imagery save the bimetallic coin and the one kilogram gold coin.
The other side of the coin shows the Western unicorn, a bearded white horse with a majestic lion’s tail. The European unicorn, like many other mythical beasts, has its origins in Greek mythology. The spiraled horn was originally associated with the horn of plenty, which gave rise to the medieval belief that the unicorn’s horn possessed magical powers. The color of the unicorn, white, symbolizes purity and honesty. The unicorn on the coin is shown with its head turned towards the viewer and its horn prominently displayed. It has one hoof raised above a band of flowers. “10 Yuan” is printed to the left of the image, and “Sino-American Lucky Mascot” is printed above the Western unicorn. The word “UNICORN” is printed in capital letters in parentheses next to the characters signifying “Sino-American Lucky Mascot.”