On View: Asian Galleries, South, 2nd floor
This thin cast bronze mirror has a perforated central boss from which to hang a cord. Framed in the center of the mirror are four mythical and auspicious animals: a dragon, a tiger, a deer, and a two-headed bird. The dragon, in addition to symbolizing the ruler, has the power to repel evil spirits and control natural phenomena such as floods and droughts. The tiger represents valor and courage as well as protection from disease. The deer is a symbol of longevity and friendship. The bird refers not merely to a prosperous future but to immortality itself, as the deceased might fly, symbolically, on its back to heaven.
Three Kingdoms Period
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John P. Lyden
Mirror, 5th-6th century. Bronze, 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John P. Lyden, 2010.85.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2010.85.1_PS11.jpg)
overall, 2010.85.1_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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I see two mirrors on display. Am I seeing the back?
Yes, you are seeing the back. The other side of this bronze mirror would be highly polished to create the reflective surface.