Asian Mythology series adds a second silver coin to its ranks – the fabled god of wealth, Zhao Gongming

The newest of the mythologically themed coin series emanating from Numiscollect, ‘Asian Mythology’ taps into the growing interest in the regions aged history. Launching last year with a fine Zhong Kui effort, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the second. He is the Chinese Military god of wealth and the Caishen of the centre (one of nine, apparently, but the whole mythos is a convoluted maze, well above my pay-grade).

Whatever the origin and subsequent story, he likes the shiny stuff and is a regular fixture in Lunar New Year celebrations. He is often depicted with a black tiger, clearly shown on the coin reverse, and holding a golden rod that functions like an alchemy pointy-stick, able to turn stone into gold. His grizzled visage is depicted very well on the reverse face, the golden rod in one hand and a pot of gold, perhaps, in the other. The foreground is filled with the traditional, and highly distinctive, Chinese coins with their square hole in the centre.

The tiger carries black colouring and their are three gilded elements in play, but the overall coin is done with an antique-finish, including the obverse with its effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank Broadley. Last year, the coin came in coloured and coloured & gilded versions, but there is sensibly just a single variant of this three ounce silver, high-relief coin for 2021.

The mintage remains at 333 pieces, so 99 fewer than the combined pair of Zhong Kui coins, although they were issued as a 2019 and a 2020, thus explaining the jump to 2021 here. Boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, this nice release will be available to pre-order from today , with shipping commencing in February next year unless the coronavirus has anything to say about it. The coin has been added to our expansive Thematic guide to Numiscollects various mythological series.


Caishen (‘God of Wealth’) is the mythological figure worshipped in Chinese folk religion and Taoism. He has been identified with many historical figures, viewed as his embodied forms, among whom Zhao Gongming ( “Lord Zhao the Marshal”), Fan Li, and Bi Gan. A large temple of Caishen has been built in the 2000s in Zhouzhi, Xi’an, Shaanxi.

Caishen’s name is often invoked during the Chinese New Year celebrations. He is often depicted riding a black tiger and holding a golden rod. He may also be depicted with an iron tool capable of turning stone and iron into gold.

Several versions of Caishen’s incarnations’ political affiliation and way of deification are circulated. It is unclear whether they are genuine historical figures, though most of the stories agree that Caishen’s most popular incarnation lived during the early Qin dynasty. Most probably it represents the merging of several heterogeneous legends, the one of Bi Gan being the most ancient.

Legend has it that Bi Gan had a wife with the surname Chen. His son was Quan (泉). After Bi Gan was put to death by his nephew King Zhou of Shang, Bi Gan’s wife and son escaped into the woods. His death eventually marked the collapse of the Shang dynasty. Later on, Quan was honoured as the ancestor of all Lins by King Wu of Zhou.

Notwithstanding the above, there is another legendary character of the Chinese God of Wealth which is generally known as Caibo Xingjun (財帛星君) amongst Chinese communities. Li Guizu (李詭祖) was born in the Zichuan District in Shandong Province and held position as a country magistrate. Li Guizu contributed significantly to the district, whilst people built a temple to worship Li Guizu after his death. The late Li Guizu was then conferred the title Caibo Xingjun by the Wude Emperor of Tang dynasty. (Source: Wikipedia)

DENOMINATION $20 CID (Cook Islands)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 93.3 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes