Aug 20, 2012
Aug 20, 2012

Mirror with Animals and Birds

Mirror with Animals and Birds

early 700s

Bronze inset with gilded-silver relief decoration

Diameter: 5.1 cm (2 in.)

Edward L. Whittemore Fund 1951.292


The silver inset of this mirror back was decorated with several hand-beaten techniques. High-relief birds, beasts, and foliage were hammered from the underside (repoussé) and finely chiseled on the front (chased). The background and border were punched with a metal stamp of tiny circles. Mirrors of this precious material, diminutive size, and starlike form number among the most refined products of Tang metalworkers.

Some historians suggest that miniature mirrors were specifically designed as burial gifts for children, but Tang gold and silver cosmetic boxes of similar scale indicate that these objects were made to grace the dressing tables of elegant women.

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