Green and Brown Nephrite Jade & Bronze
Tang Dynasty, 618-907
Diameter of Jade Mirror: 2.91 inches (7.4 cm)
Diameter of Bronze Mirror: 3 inches (7.62 cm)
The T’ang dynasty emperor T’ai-tsung (r. A.D. 627-650) remarked that “If you use bronze as your mirror, you can arrange your clothing; if you use antiquity as your mirror, you can come to know the vicissitudes of life; and if you take people as your mirror, then you can understand the concepts of gain and loss.” The emperor’s comments…demonstrate the association of the meaning of the term “mirror” to imply an affinity with the destiny of men, places, and events of the world. (Chu Jen-hsing, 31)
In addition to their functional value, Chinese mirrors also have an intrinsic artistic value in the auspicious designs that decorate their back. Most mirrors from the Tang period are highly decorated with rebuses and astrological symbols. For this particular pair of mirrors, the artists have left the back plain to show the beauty of the materials from which they were created. The jade mirror has been finely polished and is smooth to the touch whereas the bronze mirror is a rare early example of fine craftsmanship in casting. The bronze mirror has an inscription on the tip of the knob that indicates the surname (Li). There is slight alteration to the surface resulting from prolonged burial and exposure to soil mineral elements. In our opinion, this pair of mirrors represents the exceptional workmanship and design of the Tang Dynasty.
Note: During the Tang Dynasty, the Li surname was that of the royal family.
Reference Number 2961
Ex Gerald Godfrey Collection, Hong Kong.
Exhibited: Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, 1986, #38
Published: Chinese Jade, The Image from Within, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, 1986, #38
Exhibited: Dayton Art Institute, January 1989, #75
Exhibited: “Reverence of a Stone,” San Antonio Museum of Art
A jade mirror with similar size, design and workmanship is illustrated in Jade, Essence of Hills and Streams. S. Howard Hansford. London: Purnell and Sons (S.A.) Pty Ltd, 1969. Page 181, Plate E6.
A similar bronze mirror in design and size from the same period is illustrated in the Chinese Ancient Mirrors, Tokyo Tenri Gallery, 90th Exhibition, Fall 1991, Plates 72 and 73.
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