Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Asian art

View More:


Title

'Bo Ju' Mirror

206 BCE-220 CE


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

The motifs on the mirror are composed with concentric circles of geometric and mythical animal designs, Chinese characters and TLV-shaped signs. In the middle of the mirror is a square containing twelve small bosses interspersed with the characters of the twelve earth branches of the Chinese Zodiac.

Bronze mirrors were often made as guides for the soul in the afterworld. Within Chinese tradition, the square within the circle depicted the round heaven and square earth. In this divided universe, the Four Spirits - Azure Dragon, White Tiger, Red Bird, and Black Tortoise - command the cardinal directions, seasons, elements, or forces, as well as a spectrum of outer and inner virtues.

The Azure Dragon represents the East, the wood element and the Yang masculine force. The TLV-shaped signs are borrowed from the 'Liu Bo' game popular during the Qin and Han dynasties and played by males during ritual ceremonies.

This type of mirror appeared as early as the mid-Western Han dynasty, reached its peak of popularity during the late Western Han and early Eastern Han dynasty, before gradually disappearing by the late Eastern Han.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, January 2012


Details


Other Title

Mirror with TLV design


Place where the work was made

China


Date

206 BCE-220 CE


Media category

Metalwork


Materials used

bronze


Dimensions

14.3 cm diam.


Credit

Gift of Graham E. Fraser 1988


Location

Not on display


Accession number

515.1988



Place

Where the work was made
China

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


Jackie Menzies, Early Chinese Art, Sydney, 1983, not paginated. cat.no. XIX. See 'Further Information' for text.

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 75 (colour illus.).