Bronze mirror (octafoliate). With moulded decoration of a scene of ship menaced by a dragon, the legend of Ci Fei the dragon-slayer.
- Made in: China
- Found/Acquired: Korea
- Diameter: 17 centimetres
- Weight: 567 grammes
Inscription Positiontop center
Inscription TransliterationHuangpi changtian
Inscription TranslationGreat and resplendent is the heaven.
(Note added by Jan Stuart, July 2009)
The place of production of mirrors with this design is a subject of debate among scholars. Examples are known in both China and Korea, and several such mirrors have been excavated from tombs in both China and Korea. Youngsook Pak, in her book, 'Korean Art 5th to 19th Century from European Museums and Collections' (Ingelheim am Rhein, 1984) assigns similar mirrors to Korean manufacture. However, the casting of the mirror, including the sharp edges and the color of the metal, as well as the documented history of similar mirrors in China are evidence of Chinese manufacture.
Rose Kerr in her book 'Later Chinese Bronzes' (Bamboo Publishing in Association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990) assigns mirrors of this design to Chinese manufacture, as does Ju-hsi Chou in his book 'Circles of Reflection: the Carter Collection of Chinese Bronze Mirrors' (Cleveland Museum of Art, 2000). The V&A has three examples of this type, the Cleveland Museum has one, and the BM has two with this design.
Chou Ju-hsi gives solid evidence and citations from Chinese reports for the spread of these mirrors in north-east China and Korea. As he says on page 85, "In short, this type of mirror may have emerged before the last years of the Northern Song period in China, and subsequently spread throughout the broad territories of northern China under the Jin as well as to Korea."
This mirror used to be identified as "Korean" in museum records and was changed to "Chinese" manufacture in 2009.
A museum record previously stated the story depicted is "T'an T'ai" [Tan Tai Mie Ming 澹臺滅明], but Chou Ju-hsi has given the identification of the story as Ci Fei (佽 非) , the dragon-slayer, and the presence of the sword in the raised arm of a man in the prow of the boat and the menacing pose of the dragon support this theme.
The mirrior is broken into 3 pieces that have been mended. It is complete and has no replacements or modern additions.
- Associated with: Huang He
- (Asia,China,Huang He)
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Object reference number: RRC8098
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