Guan Yu is the first of the ‘Chinese Heroes’ in a stunning new series from the Mint of Poland

Early indicators suggest it is possible that 2020 will see Chinese ancient history and mythology take centre stage in quite a few new coin issues. We’ve had a few years in which the gods and legends of the major ancient civilisations of Europe have dominated coin designs in this genre, but late last year, and early 2020 point to Asian mythology becoming more abundant.

Latest to join in is the Mint of Gdansk with their own Mint of Poland produced effort, ‘Guan Yu’, the first of the ‘Chinese Heroes’. Now Guan Yu is strongly associated with Zhao Yun and Lyu Bu, the three historical characters being an integral part of the late second century ‘Three Kingdoms’ period, and both of those have seen coin releases in other series, so it’s likely that we’ll see some competing sets of these build up over the next few years. If they all maintain the standard reached so far, including of the one here, that’s no problem at all.

This is yet another beautiful piece from the Mint of Poland, packed from edge to edge with layers of ultra high relief detail. The flowing dragons are gorgeous, and the stoic figure of Guan Yu with his trademark beard still manages to draw the eye in this chaotic scene. The gilded weapon moving diagonally across the coin is a nice touch and helps stop the mass of details cross the line into confusing.

The obverse continues this mints knack of incorporating the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II (a Niue requirement), into a wider themed design, and it’s a superb effort this time. The classic Chinese dragon again fills this face, and offers much appreciated relief from the usual effigy alone. A wooden box in a themed sleeve with a C.O.A.constitutes the presentation and the coin is available to pre-order now and should ship around the end of March or early April. Lots of our sponsors sell these, so check out the Where to Buy button and open up the Mint of Poland tab.


Guan Yu, who died January or February 220, was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. Along with Zhang Fei, he shared a brotherly relationship with Liu Bei and accompanied him on most of his early exploits. Guan Yu played a significant role in the events leading up to the end of the Han dynasty and the establishment of Liu Bei’s state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. While he is remembered for his loyalty towards Liu Bei, he is also known for repaying Cao Cao’s kindness by slaying Yan Liang, a general under Cao Cao’s rival Yuan Shao, at the Battle of Boma. After Liu Bei gained control of Yi Province in 214, Guan Yu remained in Jing Province to govern and defend the area for about seven years. In 219, while he was away fighting Cao Cao’s forces at the Battle of Fancheng, Liu Bei’s ally Sun Quan broke the Sun–Liu alliance and sent his general Lü Meng to conquer Liu Bei’s territories in Jing Province. By the time Guan Yu found out about the loss of Jing Province after his defeat at Fancheng, it was too late. He was subsequently captured in an ambush by Sun Quan’s forces and executed.

Guan Yu’s life was lionised and his achievements glorified to such an extent after his death that he was deified during the Sui dynasty. Through generations of story telling, culminating in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, his deeds and moral qualities have been given immense emphasis, making Guan Yu one of East Asia’s most popular paradigms of loyalty and righteousness. He is still worshipped by many Chinese people today in mainland China, Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and among many overseas Chinese communities. In religious devotion he is reverentially called the “Divus Guan” (Guān Dì) or “Lord Guan” (Guān Gōng). He is a deity worshipped in Chinese folk religion, popular Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism, and small shrines to him are almost ubiquitous in traditional Chinese shops and restaurants. His hometown Yuncheng has also named its airport after him.(WIKIPEDIA)

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes