China 1995 1/10 oz Gold Unicorn

10 Yuan Proof Coin

About the China 1995 1/10 oz Gold Unicorn 10 Yuan Proof Coin

The above coin is a 1/10 ounce gold Chinese unicorn coin with a .999 degree of fineness. This coin possesses a 10 yuan face value. In 1995, 5000 gold unicorn coins bearing the 10 yuan denomination were released by the China Mint. Unicorn coins were created in China between 1994 and 1997. This is a coin of proof quality; as such, the background of the coin has a mirror-like quality, while the embellishments appear matte. This allows the unicorns and other decorations to stand out from the background with a three dimensional quality.

The reverse of each coin in this series shows two traditional Western unicorns, a noble mare and a gentle foal resting at her front feet. Above the mare appears the wording, “Sino-American Unicorn Lucky Mascot,” next to which is the English word in all capital letters, “unicorn.” Just above the foal is the face value of the coin: 10 yuan. The top edge of the obverse shows the Chinese characters that translate to “The People’s Republic of China.” The obverse of the coin also shows an image of the Chinese unicorn, or Qilin. The Qilin stands on his two hind legs, with his front legs kicking away two puffs of smoke. Below the Qilin is the year of creation, 1995. The bi-metallic coin of this series differs from the others; all of the remaining twelve coins bear the same images and writings on either side.

The coins in this series depict the conflation of Eastern and Western mythologies surrounding these two creatures. As the beasts appear on different sides of the coins, this series also demonstrates the differences between the two beasts. Both the Qilin and the Western unicorn are associated with royalty and nobility, owing perhaps to the conceived rare appearances of both animals. However, the Western unicorn also symbolizes purity of spirit and body, which is why it is seen appearing in some religious artwork in the later middle ages and the early Renaissance.

The appearance of the Western unicorn and Eastern unicorn are also very different. The Qilin looks more like a dragon in appearance than a horse. On the coin, it appears that the mane of the Qilin is aflame, and as one can see, the head of the Qilin is that of a dragon, while its body is covered with scales. The Qilin also has the tail of a lion and the hooves of an ox. Its image is quite fierce, though it is reputed to be a gentle creature. The Western unicorn is most frequently pictured as a white horse with a flowing mane, short beard and the very distinctive spiraled horn. The unicorn was thought to be a real, living animal in medieval and Renaissance Europe and not a member of the spirit realm, as the Qilin was thought to be. The unicorn was believed to be extremely rare and was “hunted” for its horn, which was believed to cure illnesses and counteract the effects of poison.

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