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Mexico Wins International Award For $100 Peso Note Featuring 17th-Century Nun Sor Juana

Over the last few years, Mexico has been updated its currency to make it more secure from counterfeiters and to highlight the country’s diverse history. One of the country’s newest bills is a $100 peso note featuring a 17th-Century female historical figure and it’s winning major international awards for its design and history.

Mexico’s $100-peso bill has been named banknote of the year for 2020 by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS). As printer and issuer of the note, the Bank of México beat 24 other nominees to the award, and the Sor Juana bill led the way from the start of the voting process.

The note features national heroine Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, with the monarch butterfly biosphere reserve on its reverse.

In its announcement the IBNS wrote: “Mexico’s award-winning entry may provide a template as other countries reconsider how they design and promote new banknotes.  The successful design in eye-pleasing red combines Hispanic architecture, a famous female Hispanic literary figure and a tribute to the world’s fragile ecosystem.”

Past bank note of the year recipients include Aruba, Canada, Uganda, the Faroe Islands, two time winner Switzerland and three time winner Kazakhstan, among others.

So who was Sor Juana and why was she important to Mexico?

Born in 1651, Sor Juana was a self-educated nun and intellectual renowned for her poetry, writing and political activism, who criticized the misogyny of colonial Mexico.

Beginning her studies at a young age, Sor Juana was fluent in Latin and also wrote in Nahuatl, and became known for her philosophy in her teens. Sor Juana educated herself in her own library, which was mostly inherited from her grandfather. After joining a nunnery in 1667, Sor Juana began writing poetry and prose dealing with such topics as love, feminism, and religion.

Mexico was up against 24 other countries in the nomination process.

In second place was Kate Cranston who appears on the Bank of Scotland’s 20 pound note. The businesswoman appears on the obverse and she is recognized for being the owner of the famous tea rooms inaugurated in 1903 and that today are a tourist attraction.

In third place there was a triple tie between the 20 pound note of the Ulster Bank of Northern Ireland whose design features flora and buskers. The one from the Bahamas of 5 dollars with the image of the junkanoo dancer, and the one of 50 dollars from Fiji.

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