We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 In line with NSW Health advice, the Art Gallery is temporarily closed to the public. Stay updated on our social media.

Title

Mirror with TLV design

206 BCE-220 CE

Artists

Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Mirror with TLV design
    Place where the work was made
    China
    Period
    Han dynasty 206 BCE - 220 CE → China
    Date
    206 BCE-220 CE
    Media category
    Metalwork
    Materials used
    bronze
    Dimensions
    0.6 x 14.3 cm diam.
    Credit
    Gift of Graham E. Fraser 1988
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    515.1988
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Share
  • 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

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    China

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications