The second issues commemorating China's famous Peking Opera feature colorful and distinctive masks on 2011-dated silver and gold proof coins struck at the Shenzhen Guobao Mint. Each of the two silver coins weighs 1 troy oz. of pure silver (50,000 issued), and the gold coin contains ¼ troy oz. of pure gold (30,000 issued). Coins come in official presentation boxes with Certificates of Authenticity. The official United States distributor has only a very limited supply available. Prices and availability are subject to change with market conditions. For orders or further information contact Panda America, 3460 Torrance Blvd., Suite, 101, Torrance, CA 90503; call 800-472-6327; or visit www.PandaAmerica.com. A very limited quantity of the 2010 Peking Opera coins are still available from Panda America. The Peking Opera is considered as a national treasure, with a history of over 200 years. It is considered the most significant of all opera production companies in China, and plays a large role in Chinese culture. Colorful masks, inspired from ancient ceremonies and religious symbols, are created by the actors with the colors representing the character's personality and fate. There is an old saying from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties that "masks are for Gods, make-up for ghosts." It meant that to play a god you must wear a mask, but to play a ghost all you needed was to slap some paint on your face. This followed the idea that gods were sacred and it would be sacrilegious, perhaps even dangerous, to portray them, whereas ghosts, the embodiment of disease, poverty and evil were not subject to such respect. Craftsmen who carved Deity masks believed that as soon as the eyes were carved out of a piece of art, it then became animated with the spirit of the gods. Over time, actors began to think that it was less a sin to portray gods and spirits on the stage instead of in temples and palaces. In 2008, Beijing schools added The Peking Opera to their course-list as part of a coordinated effort to preserve the traditional art for another generation, that seems to be more interested in pop stars and Western culture.