China 1995 1 oz Silver Unicorn
10 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1995 1 oz Silver Unicorn 10 Yuan Proof Coin
The coin pictured above is a one ounce 99.9% pure, silver Chinese unicorn coin. It is one of twelve such coins issued for release in 1995. Each of these coins features both Chinese and Western unicorns as their decorations. This coin has the face value of 10 yuan. In all, 8000 of these one ounce, 10 yuan silver coins were produced. Its condition is proof in quality, meaning that the metal was struck multiple times. This gives the background its signature mirror-like finish, and the unicorns themselves possess a more matte finish. This enhances the three dimensional quality of the raised embellishments.
On the obverse of the unicorn coin, one can see the Qilin, or Eastern unicorn. The Qilin differs greatly in appearance from the Western unicorn. The Eastern unicorn is more of a dragon-like beast, said to be one of the nine sons of the dragon. This creature was believed to be a member of the spirit world, only appearing at times of great social change or at the birth of a particularly sage ruler or religious leader. It was said that a Qilin appeared at the birth of Confucius. The Qilin possesses the head and fierce teeth of a Chinese dragon, a scaly covering on its skin, a lion’s tail and a mane that appears to be set aflame. As the Qilin is associated with prosperity (rui) and fertility, it is often seen with a child atop its back (as in the 1994 set of coins), which heralds an important birth or the gift of a child to infertile parents. On the coin, the Qilin appears fearsome, rearing back on its hind legs and kicking its front hooves through a cloud of smoke. Above the Qilin appears the Chinese wording, “The People’s Republic of China.” Next to the Qilin on the right are the characters for “Qilin,” and below its hooves is the year of its production, 1995.
On the reverse, one can see the image of two European or Western unicorns. The larger unicorn, perhaps a mare, bends her head down towards the smaller of the two unicorns, a foal. Both display their horns, flowing manes and distinctive goat-like beards. Beneath the two unicorns is a band of flowers, giving homage to their reputation for purity. One can see the coin’s face value, 10 yuan, above the foal. At the top edge of the reverse are printed the Chinese characters that stand for “Sino-American Lucky Mascot.” In parentheses next to this phrase is the much shorter translation: “UNICORN.” The unicorn was traditionally associated with virtue. In particular, the Western unicorn was associated with virginity and purity of heart, making it a popular image in medieval religious art. The unicorn was also highly sought after by hunters because its horn was said to have magical healing properties. Many a charlatan sold goat and narwhal horn to naive buyers who thought that they were actually purchasing unicorn horn.