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Title

Mirror with 'caoye' design

circa 1st century BCE


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

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.

The distinctive 'caoye', or grass and leaf, pattern is defined by the symmetrical motif resembling an ear of corn and the trefoil forms which appear on the main ground of the mirror around the central square. An inscription cast into the square band reads: 'jianri zhiming, tianxia daming' (may you see the light of the sun and may the world enjoy great lightness), suggesting that the design symbolises a form of cosmological harmony.

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.74
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Details


Place where the work was made

China


Date

circa 1st century BCE


Media category

Metalwork


Materials used

bronze, 'caoye' type


Dimensions

13.1 cm diam.


Credit

Gift of Graham E. Fraser 1986


Location

Not on display


Accession number

171.1986



Place

Where the work was made
China

Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 74 (colour illus.).