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Bronze Mirrors of Ancient China
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Bronze Mirrors
from Ancient China


Overview | By Dynasty | Beyond China | Geography & Maps | Art & Culture

China's ancient civilization influenced its neighbors: Korea and Japan to the east, Central Asia to the west, Siberia to north. Round bronze mirrors with a central knob, popular in China, are a unique marker of diffusion of Chinese culture in Eurasia especially along the Silk Road. The circle and dot pattern is an ancient symbol of the sun in Chinese writing.

Use these resources on bronze mirrors, unique objects with a practical use in grooming, but also were throught to have a magical value.

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Bronze Mirror:
A Novel


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Catalog of Special
Exhibition of
Bronze Mirrors


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Rise of Civilization
in East Asia


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Sources of Shang History: The Oracle Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China


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China: Its History
and Culture


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A Brief History of Chinese Civilization


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China's Imperial Past:
An Introduction to
Chinese History
and Culture


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Discs of Splendor:
The Relief Mirrors
of the Etruscans


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Overview   [ Top ]

Bronze mirrors from China: with pictures, stories, including their reflection of the soul's light, plus how they were made

Chinese bronze mirrors:   history and three examples, including round and square and octagonal, all with a central knob

History of bronze mirror in China: possibly tracing to 4,000 years ago in northwest China, and their role in reflecting light or sunlight, suggesting a reason for the shape paralleling the ancient sun symbol. Includes unique transparent treasured mirrors.

Ancient Chinese
Bronze Mirrors

2500 Years of Chinese Bronze Mirrors: with insights on different types of manufacture, including "lost wax" and mold casting, and more on items in the
Carter Collection of Chinese Bronze Mirrors, Cleveland Museum of Art

Circles of Reflection:
The Carter Collection
of Chinese
Bronze Mirrors

Bronze mirror with jade insert:  late Warring States to Early Han, and another bronze mirror from the Cleveland Art Museum - explore the museum's Web site for many more examples

Chinese bronze mirrors:  role in warding off evil spirits with light, and the nature of the black surface in long-buried mirrors

Bronze Age burial in Siberia yields mirror: researchers on the Angara River found a fragment of a round bronze mirror, nephrite blade knives, a ring and disc of light nephrite, and round bottom pottery, all suggesting trade or interaction with China

Shang Dynasty Bronze Mirrors   [ Top ]

Round bronze mirror: round mirrors date back to the late Shang Dynasty [16th-11th centuries B.C.] and were decorated with symbols with cosmological meaning. This is a large image of a 7th century mirror.

Four bronze mirrors were included among 468 bronze objects in the royal Shang tomb of consort Fu Hao. Jade, ivory, pottery, more also found.

Bronze Age objects from China, including round bronze mirror [No. 386]
and pi or bi ring or disk [No. 336] of jade

Mirrors appeared in Shang China and in Mycenaean Greece, about the same time period

Han Dynasty Bronze Mirrors   [ Top ]

Eastern Han bronze mirror: with central knob, four knobs for the four directions - and one can also see the shape of the bi or pi disk reflected in the central ring encircling the knob. Such disks were often jade.

Bronze mirror: Han Dynasty, and bronze wine vessel, Shang Dynasty, and a Han Dynasty bronze mirror, once broken into several pieces, and another example of a bronze mirror with bird motif, green patina

Silver-gilded bronze mirror: large photos of front, back of Han Dynasty mirror with central knob, four knobs for the four directions

Round bronze mirrors: from the Shaanxi History Museum in northern China with examples from Han, Tang and Song dynasties. Note the use of the four directions and the twelve auspicious animals in the decorations

Symbols on two bronze mirrors discussed: one of the Han Dynasty, the other of the Six Dynasties period, the mirrors show the four animals of the four quadrants of heaven and four seasons, much more

China's bronze mirrors: Han and Tang Dynasties, and more examples of unique bronze mirrors of Warring States, Han and Tang Dynasties

Silk Road Trade: bronze mirrors and silk were among the Chinese goods taken west along the Silk Road to Europe during the Han Dynasty

Bronze mirrors of this type were among the trade goods sent west along the land and sea trade routes by the Han Dynasty rulers

Tang Dynasty Bronze & Silver Mirrors   [ Top ]

Round bronze mirror, Tang Dynasty, with knob and auspicious animals, and a look at Chinese mirrors such as Tang Dynasty good luck wedding mirrors

Bronze mirror with four lobes:  Tang Dynasty, shown with cord through the knob, and a larger image of the mirror

Bronze mirror: Tang Dynasty mirror, with other examples of Chinese bronze objects

Round bronze mirror: Tang Dynasty, lion and grapevine design

Round bronze mirror:   Late Warring States period, among many other bronze objects, plus Tang Dynasty mirror with inlaid mother of pearl

Tang Dynasty round silver mirror with enlarged picture of the decorated back or reverse side

Bronze Mirrors of Later Dynasties   [ Top ]

Square bronze mirror: Song Dynasty, with phoenixes and floral sprays

Round bronze mirror: Ming Dynasty, symbols for longevity, good luck

Round bronze mirror with handle: Qing Dynasty, with double "happiness" characters

Round Bronze Mirrors from Beyond China   [ Top ]

Round bronze mirror: 3rd century B.C., Korea

Japan's Sun Goddess created from a bronze mirror: mythological origin of Amaterasu, considered to be the ancestor of the royal family, and an example of a Japanese bronze mirror from the Kofun period and another
bronze mirror, decorated, with handle, from Japan, 1800s

Round bronze mirror with Handle: plain, Khmer Kingdom

Round bronze mirror:  decorated with four animals, Persia, 1100 B.C.

A bronze mirror and pottery were found in a burial at Gonur Tepe, an archaeological site from Bronze Age Turkmenistan

Bronze mirror found with the now famous 2,000-year-old mummies found in the Takla Makan Desert west of the Gobi. Excellent map.

Round bronze mirror: mirror from Iran based on Chinese original, but with Islamic motifs in decoration

Round bronze mirror: Etruscan from Italy, and another bronze mirror decorated with image of a diviner

Round bronze mirrors: by Greek artists of Magna Graecia

Celtic bronze mirror: with Celtic designs, handle, and another example of a bronze mirror, Romano-Celtic, from Britain

Bronze Mirror Patterns in Other Objects   [ Top ]

Strickland Brooch:   this circular brooch with the central knob and four knobs for the four directions, is Anglo-Saxon, mid-9th century AD

ChinaHistoryCulture.jpg (3953 bytes)
China: Its History
and Culture

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The Cambridge Illustrated
History of China


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China: Empire
and Civilization

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China: A
New History

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Cambridge History
of Ancient China:
From the Origins of
Civilization to 221 BC


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Guide to
Ancient Pottery


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Chinese Potter: A
Practical History of
Chinese Ceramics


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The Archaeology of
Northeast China: Beyond the
Great Wall


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Radiant Stones:
Archaic Chinese



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Jades of the
Liangzhu Culture


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A Brief History of Chinese Civilization


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China: Overview
  [ Top ]

star-red.gif (881 bytes) Guide to China's Culture and History: in-depth online resources

Introduction to China:  history, dynasties, geography, regions, peoples, society, economy, transportation, more, from the Library of Congress

Overview of Chinese History and China: The World's Oldest Civilization

China: History & Timelines   [ Top ]

Chinese Dynasties 2000 BC - 1911 AD: Xia, Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Sung, Jin, Lioa, Yuan, Ming, Qing or Manchu - and a look at the major political and cultural events of each time period

Chinese Dynasty Maps: showing territory ruled by the Zhou [NE China much like Shang], then Qin, Han, Tang, Sung, Yuan, Ming, Qing, including a map comparing Shang and Zhou regions

Guide to China's Dynasties: after the Neolithic, the dynasties from Shang to Western and Eastern Chou [Zhou] to Ch'ing - 3000 BC to 1912 AD

Shang Dynasty 1700-1050 BC: the rise of Chinese civilization begins with bronze manufacturing, military might with horse-drawn chariots and composite bows and arrows, agriculture, and complex religious rituals, early writing on oracle bones, art including jade amulets and ritual blades

China: Geology, Geography & Maps   [ Top ]

star-red.gif (881 bytes) Maps of Asia and Siberia: in-depth collection of online maps

Maps of China: five maps provide a look at China's location in Asia, mountains, rivers, cities, Mongolia, Lake Baikal and Siberia, more

Chinese Dynasty Maps: showing territory of various rulers

Maps of China - Neolithic & Links to Maps by Dynasty

Ancient Art & Culture:   [ Top ]

China's Art Across the Ages:  from painted Neolithic pottery to Shang Dynasty jade mask to pottery striding horse to Han Dynasty curled-tail dog of pottery  [ see large image ] from burial of Emperor Jingdi

The Importance of Trade to Chinese Art:   2,000 years of trade from the Han to Qing Dynasties

Pottery from Neolithic China: including a tripod vase in black pottery, in the shape of an owl - a popular image - from the Yangshao Culture, and more pottery from China's Neolithic and from Shang and Zhou Dynasties.

star-red.gif (881 bytes) See also Guide to Pottery from the earliest times in China, Japan, Siberia, as well as the Americas

Chinese Pottery & Ceramics: illustrated with examples from early Dawenkou and Longshan cultures to Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties

Chinese Artifacts: from early Neolithic stone tools and a pottery pig, to Neolithic pottery, Shang bronzes including a vessel in the shape of an owl, a Shang bronze mirror, a Zin bronze mirror in circle shape with raised dot, Han Dynasty clay warriors, much more

China's Arts - Chronologically: from Yang Shao pottery to bronze ritual vessels to jade daggers and scepters, a rare bronze vessel in owl form, a p'an or shallow vessel with beasts, and more from various dynasties, and the evolution of the pen or p'an or shallow tray

China's Art & Antiquities: painted pottery, bronze vessels, jade, paintings, and more, plus a guide to China Knowledge in arts, culture, history

Ancient Bronze Age of China: pictures, descriptions of wine and food vessels, decorative animals including ram's head, dragons, and the animal or beast mask called t’aot’ie, and more early bronze objects from Xia, Shang and Zhou, and the evolution of the taotie mask

Bronze Vessels: browse Art/Handicrafts to find pictures, descriptions of Shang ritual bronze vessels for food and wine: ding, li, gui, jue, jia, pan, you, zun, others, plus Shang & Tang bronzes including jue, ting

China - 5,000 Years: jade, bronze, grave goods, ceramics, painting, more - each shown from several early Chinese dynasties, including Zhou jade burial mask reminiscent of Ipiutak ivory burial mask from Bering Strait

star-red.gif (881 bytes) See also Guide to Jade and Ancient Chinese Jade - An Introduction

Enduring Art of Jade Age China: carvings of a jade stag, dagger with bird motif, masked human, more - all nephrite jade

History of Ancient Jade in China: a 6,500-year history illustrated with a jade ax and animal and bird figurines, the bi disk, cong which could have carved faces with round eyes, jade burial garments, more

China's Neolithic Art: painted pottery, jade bi disk, followed by:
· Shang Dynasty Art: 2,000-1,000 BC, pottery, bronze, jade
· Zhou & Han Dynasties: 1,000 BC - 1 AD, jade, bronze vessels, bells
· Eastern Han Dynasty: 1 - 500 AD, stoneware with celadon glaze
· Tang & Song Dynasties: 500 - 1,000 AD, tomb guardian, painting

Treasures from a Lost Civilization: ancient art from Sanxingdui, Sichuan, including rare bronze masks, statues, more, Shang period and later

China: 100 Treasures: selections of ancient art from different regions

Splendors of Imperial China: selections of art from various dynasties

HistoryChineseCivilization.jpg (5164 bytes)
A History of
Chinese Civilization

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Three Thousand Years of
Chinese Painting


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Jades of the
Liangzhu Culture

ArtsChina.jpg (5936 bytes)
The Arts
of China

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Ainu: Spirit
of a Northern

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Spirit of Siberia:
Traditional Native Life,
Clothing and Footwear


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The Shaman's Coat:
A Native History
of Siberia

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East of the Sun:
The Epic Conquest
and Tragic History
of Siberia


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Baikal: Sacred
Sea of Siberia

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Origins of
Pottery in Asia

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