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Mirror (Inscription) with Concentric Circles and Linked Arcs

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China Anonymous, Chinese
Mirror (Inscription) with Concentric Circles and Linked Arcs, 1st c. B.C.E.
4 7/16 in. x 4 7/16 in. x 1/4 in. (11.3 cm x 11.3 cm x 0.6 cm)

Object Type: Decorative Arts
Technique: Metalworking
Creation Place: Asia, China
Credit Line: Gift of Miss Helen K. Powell
Accession Number: 0280

"Circles of Reflection," exhibition catalog, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2002, p.36.

Tag: Powell #39. Label on surface: #7.

Cast bronze.

Object Description
Thick, round bronze mirror with three fields, and a dome boss set on a small slightly raised circular base. In the first (inner) field a heavy band encloses the boss base connecting to it by alternating groups of triple and single parallel lines. The center field is enclosed by a heavy arc ring. Triple and single line groupings extend to the inner band. The outer field has an inscription, which runs between a striated band. The inscription is deceptively long, as a spacer appears between every word, which doubles the length. The face of the mirror is concave. The rim is wide (7/16") and heavy.

This mirror is called the "zhaoming" (illumination) mirror, with a hemispherical knob and sunburst around it, similar to the "sunlight" mirror. The inscription reads:

Its inner purity is shown in perfect illumination.
Its light is the image of the sun and moon.
My heart experiences uplift and is keen to be loyal,
Yet it is obstructed and unable to express it.

"The illumination mirror is found across China, often appearing side by side with the sunlight mirror in given sites. It is possible to speculate that, after its introduction, the illumination mirror began to overshadow the older type and moved on to dominate the market." -Cleveland Museum of Art "Circles of Reflection" exhibition catalog, p. 36.

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