Chinese bronze mirrors are generally thin circular discs, slightly convex on the polished reflecting side and decorated with cast designs of a symbolic nature on the reverse. A small loop or pierced dome at the centre of the reversed side was used to attach a cord. The earliest known mirrors date from at least the Western Zhou period (900s-800s BCE) but it was during the Han and Tang dynasties that large numbers of highly ornamented mirrors were produced. Their reflective function made them a vehicle for the expression of a fascinating range of mythological and cosmological ideas and beliefs.
Here four slanting T-shapes are superimposed on the background pattern of hook-and-spiral motifs familiar to Warring States bronze vessels. The 'T' motif relates to lozenge designs found on other mirrors of this date but they may also represent the pictogram for mountain suggesting an allusion to the enduring tradition of the landscape and the natural world. Stylised floral motifs emerge from each corner of the central square.
‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.74
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Place where the work was made
4th century BCE-3rd century BCE
bronze, 'shouxian' type with 'shan' character design
13.1 cm diam.
Gift of Graham E. Fraser 1986
Not on display
Where the work was made
Referenced in 1 publication
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 74 (colour illus.).