The Money Masters: Part 2
By Diana Pastor
In last month’s article, we discussed the faces on Guatemala’s bank notes, and so continuing in this vein this month we’re going to discover a little about who, and what, is to be found on Guatemala’s coins. Whilst it can be a bit tedious to learn about the long list of Guatemalan Presidents that we find on our bank notes, on the coins we can instead find lots of interesting national and cultural symbols which perhaps are even more interesting than the stories of the individuals that appear on our bank notes.
On the 5-cent coin we can find two national symbols. On one side you can see the ceiba tree, a beautiful representative of the biodiversity of the country. On the other side you will find Guatemala’s national emblem, which consists of a quetzal on the declaration of independence, two rifles and laurel branches. Its value is negligible but it still continues to circulate in the country.
On the 10 cents coin we find the majestic monolith of Quirigua, a Mayan monument that is located in the department of Izabal. This stele is very famous because it is one of the largest independent monuments in Latin America. It has managed to survive through the years due to the heavily resistant construction that characterises Mayan buildings. If you haven’t seen this impressive monument yet, we highly recommend checking it out before you head home!
Moving on now to the 25 cents coin, my personal favourite. The story represented on this coin goes back to 1959, when the Bank of Guatemala decided that it wanted to place the face of a Mayan woman on one of its coins. A commission was appointed to look for the woman with the most attractive facial profile in the country and that’s how Concepción Ramírez, who still lives in Santiago Atitlán today, ended up with her face on all of these coins. This particular coin is also more popularly known as “choca”, due to the fact that choca is a word that is used to refer to someone who is blind or only has one eye. The reason for calling this coin “choca” is that in the portrait of Concepcion you can only see one of her eyes. This coin is very representative of the national folklore that it symbolises, but it also stands out from the rest of Guatemala’s money masters as it is a woman that is portrayed on the coin, who happens to be located in one of the most beautiful places in all of Guatemala.
On one side of the 50 cent coin is the Monja Blanca, the national flower of Guatemala. This national flower is actually now in danger of extinction and so these days it can only be found only in certain areas of the country.
And finally, the Q.1.00 coin was one that emerged after the signing of the peace accords in the 1990s. The lines that appear on this coin overlap to represent the image of a dove and the word peace.