Numiartis continues its numismatic journey through Romance of the Three Kingdoms, with the second of the five Tiger Generals

We seem to be on a run of new releases from some of the finer producers in the market at the moment, and that continues with the second release in German producer Numiartis’ Chinese mythology themed series, ‘Five Tiger Generals’. The launch coin debuted in September 2020 and featured Guan Yu. This time, we have Zhang Fei, one of the first to join with the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period of China. He fought in numerous battles, but was ultimately assassinated by his own subordinates in 221 AD.

Like the first coin, this one depicts the general in full combat regalia, mounted on a war-horse, weapon in hand. We love the depiction of the horse in particular, exhibiting great anatomy and a very dynamic pose. Zhang Fei is equally well realised, his staff increasing the feeling of depth, and reinforcing the sense of looking up from a low viewpoint. By contrast, the background is there to provide context, rather than be an integral part of the scene.

The obverse is a pretty composite of concentric rings filled with decorative, repeating patterns. One of the two outer rings holds the inscribed issue details, much as it holds the title on the reverse face, keeping things clean and ordered. This series in unusual in having gilded highlights on the obverse face, instead of the reverse, and for Zhang Fei, it’s a pair of crossed staff/spears. We thought originally that the obverse would be a common one to the series, but we’re pleased to see that’s not the case.

Limited to 500 pieces, Zhang Fei comes boxed with a certificate of Authenticity and should be available for pre-order any time now. A good-looking addition to a genre noted for its particularly high standards.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Five Tiger Generals

The Five Tiger Generals is a popular appellation in Chinese culture for the top five military commanders serving under one lord. Although the term does not appear in Chinese historical records and is not used officially, it has been heavily used in literature texts, folklore, as well as popular culture.

As a romanticized novel based on the history of the Three Kingdoms period, the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms refers Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Huang Zhong, Ma Chao and Zhao Yun as the “Five Tiger Generals” of Shu Han, one of the Three Kingdoms, led by warlord Liu Bei. In the literature, Liu Bei initially appointed Guan Yu as General Who Destroys Rebels and Lord of Hanshou, Zhang Fei as General Who Subdues Rebels and Lord of Xin, Huang Zhong as General Who Conquers the West, Ma Chao as General Who Pacifies the West, and Zhao Yun General Who Guards the West, and promoted them to “Five Tiger Generals” later. Guan Yu is one of Liu Bei’s strongest generals in the novel.

Together with Zhang Fei, he started following Liu Bei’s leadership at a very early stage of Liu Bei’s career, at which time the Han dynasty was experiencing the large-scale Yellow Turban Rebellion. He joined a militia that was led by Liu Bei, funded by local business groups in Zhuo County. He impressed Liu Bei at their first meet-up due to his physical strength and outgoing personality, and quickly formed a brotherly relationship with Liu Bei and Zhang Fei. He rose from fighting Yellow Turbans, commanded Liu Bei’s navy, conquered Changsha, governed Jing Province, expanded Shu Han’s territory to Cao Wei-controlled Fancheng. Throughout his career, Guan Yu participated in numerous battles against Cao Wei led by Cao Cao and Eastern Wu led by Sun Quan, and played a critical role in establishment of Shu Han. Due to the might of his arm and his chivalry, Guan Yu is divinized after his death, representing bravery, power, loyalty, righteousness, as well as brotherhood.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 93.3 grams
FINISH Black proof
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, Colour
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes