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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Mirror. Design of two cranes in flight and pine needles. Made of bronze, cast using lost-wax method.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 12thC (ca.)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 11.2 centimetres
    • Weight: 117 grammes
    • Height: 0.8 centimetres (Lying flat)
  • Curator's comments

    By the Heian period the Daoist decorations and geometrical forms which had been adopted from Chinese mirrors during the Kofun period had been replaced largely by Japanese motifs. The cranes and pines on this mirror are auspicious emblems of longevity. The central boss is pierced with a hole to take a cord loop for holding the mirror. (label copy, VH, 1999)


  • Bibliography

    • Smith et al 1990 126 a bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 58 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2006 Oct 13-, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2014 23 Apr - 2 Aug, A History of the world, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi
    2014 Dec - 2015 Mar, A History of the world, Taiwan PROMISED
    2015 April - 2016 Jan, A History of the world, Japan PROMISED

  • Subjects

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  • Acquisition date


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Mirror. Cranes and pines. Made of bronze.


Mirror. Cranes and pines. Made of bronze.

Image description



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Object reference number: JCR5787

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