Bronze mirror

From Japan
Middle Kofun period, 5th century AD

Jingles and rattles are found on mirrors of the Kofun period (about 3rd -7th century AD). They possibly had some shamanistic ritual significance, but it was a fashion that quickly died out. One of the rattles on this mirror still sounds when it is shaken.

The craftsmen of the Kofun period copied very formal Chinese-style decoration. The surface of the mirror has concentric rings of simple hatching with a softer whorl design in the centre.

As mound burials for leaders became more widespread, grave-goods almost always contained a set of mirror, sword and jewel - all symbols of authority, and objects with powerful ritual significance. The mirror, sword and jewel still form the regalia of the Japanese Imperial family.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Diameter: 12.900 cm (excluding jingles)

Museum number

Asia JA OA+544


Gift of William Gowland


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