Object Record

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Catalog number 63.18
Title Relief Mirror
Object Name Mirror, Hand
Description This mirror is an example of a zodiac pattern used on the backs of Chinese hand mirrors. Zodiac symbols continued to be a popular design well into the Tang dynasty. The zodiac pattern on this mirror is a relatively simple zodiac diagram, showing twelve zodiac symbols around the inside rim of the outer circle alternated with half-moon shapes. Six smaller knobs are placed around the central boss; these smaller knobs may represent animals of some significance as well. The outer rim of the mirror is inscribed with an untranslated passage that could be a poem, a personal inscription which identified the owner, or an inspirational epigram.

BRONZE MIRRORS
Before the invention of the modern mirror, many ancient civilizations utilized bronze mirrors which required frequent polishing of their smooth convex surfaces. Such mirrors were introduced to China in the 6th century BC, and were thought to ward off evil spirits by their reflection of light. They were a luxury item reserved for royalty, and later versions often included personalized inscriptions or seals. Although these mirrors are not Taoist items per se, many of them are significant in a Taoist context because they display cosmological diagrams which reveal the basic Taoist principles of the cardinal directions and their animal guardians, as well as other intellectual underpinnings of the Taoist religion.

Reference: Winter, Amy H., with Xiaoping Lin (eds.), "The Light of Infinite Wisdom: Asian Art from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and Other Collections," Queens College, CUNY, 2003.
Medium/Material Bronze
Dimensions Dia-4.5 inches
Year Range from 618.0
Year Range to 906.0
Search Terms Asian
China
East Asia
Tang Dynasty
Mirror
7th century AD
8th century AD
9th century AD
10th century AD
Ritual
Cosmetic
Symbolism
Metalwork, bronze
Exhibition and Publication History *Winter, Amy H., with Xiaoping Lin (eds.), "The Light of Infinite Wisdom: Asian Art from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and Other Collections," Queens College, CUNY, 2003. Exhibition: October 15 - December 20, 2003, p. 29.
Culture Chinese/Tang dynasty