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With a history that is believed to date back more than 3,000 years, China is one of the world’s oldest civilisations in the world. Deeply rooted with a storied past, it’s no surprise that Chinese culture is full of ancient tradition, rich heritage and mythical folklore. The perfect example of this is the Chinese zodiac which fully encompasses all three.
The Chinese zodiac is a classification scheme that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. The 12-year cycle is an approximation to the 11.85-year orbital period of Jupiter. Identifying this scheme using the generic term "zodiac" reflects several superficial similarities to the Western zodiac. Nevertheless, there are major differences between the two: the animals of the Chinese zodiac are not associated with constellations spanned by the ecliptic plane. The Chinese 12-part cycle corresponds to years, rather than months. The Chinese zodiac is represented by 12 animals, whereas some of the signs in the Western zodiac are not animals, despite the implication of the etymology of the word zodiac.
Established in 2014 with the release of the Year of the Horse coin, The Shēngxiào Collection celebrates the lunar calendar and honours the various animals of the Chinese zodiac. Continuing this annual tradition into 2021, The Royal Mint commemorated the second symbol in the 12-year cycle as we celebrate the Lunar Year of the Ox.
The fifth crowned portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II facing right, wearing the George IV State Diadem and drop earrings.
ELIZABETH II·D·G·REG·FID·DEF·5 POUNDS·
Depicts a powerful ox grazing in a meadow with bluebells in the foreground and blossoming trees beyond, complete with a picturesque countryside setting and prominently features the traditional Chinese symbol for the ox, centrally placed above the sacred herbivore: 牛. In the lower right, on the ground behind the ox, the designer's initials (HB).
YEAR OF THE OX • 2021