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Mirror

Mirror

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    13th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast bronze

  • Museum number:

    718-1901

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The first mirrors to be used in Japan were imported from Korea and China and it was not until the 4th century AD that the Japanese began to make their own, cast from bronze. The mirror faces were polished and, from the 11th century, made more reflective by applying a thin layer of tin. They were lifted and held by a cord which was passed through a hole in the raised boss, which often took the form of a tortoise, on the center back.

At first, Japanese mirrors were close copies of Chinese and Korean originals, but by the 11th century mirrors with distinctively Japanese designs were being made. The decoration of two small birds and pine trees by the sea-shore on the back of this 13th-century mirror shows how formal Chinese designs were replaced by naturalistic subjects.

Physical description

Circular cast bronze mirror with images of two hares, two small birds and autumn plants.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

13th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Cast bronze

Dimensions

Diameter: 11.4 cm

Descriptive line

Mirror, cast bronze, Japan, 13th century

Materials

Bronze

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Plant; Bird; Hare; Autumn

Categories

ELISE; Metalwork

Collection

East Asia Collection

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