Mirror with figures and chariots

Surface: dark olive green patina on the back; brilliant bluish gray with patches of light green on the face; earthy adhesions. Decoration: figures and horse-drawn chariots in relief; engraved border.

Historical period(s)
Late Eastern Han dynasty, 2nd-3rd century
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Diam x D: 21.1 x 1.7 cm (8 5/16 x 11/16 in)
Geography
China, Zhejiang province, Shaoxing
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1937.14
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Mirror
Type

Mirror

Keywords
casting, chariot, China, Eastern Han dynasty (25 - 220), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

By 1936
C. T. Loo & Company, New York, NY from at least February 1, 1937 [1]

From 1937
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C. T. Loo & Company on May 3, 1937 [2]

Notes:

[1] C. T. Loo's Approval Memo, dated February 1, 1936, on C. T. Loo & Company, Chinese Art letterhead, no. 36/068, “Large mirror high relief decoration of chariot with horses and various figures and birds – TSIN (255-206 B.C.),” copy in object file.

[2] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated May 3, 1937, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948

Description

Surface: dark olive green patina on the back; brilliant bluish gray with patches of light green on the face; earthy adhesions. Decoration: figures and horse-drawn chariots in relief; engraved border.

Label

The Daoist deities Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, and her Consort Dongwang gong, the King Common-lord of the East, ornament this mirror. Horses and carriages may refer to the Han dynasty cult of the Queen Mother, which involved horses and chariots, or to the story of King Mu of the Zhou dynasty who traveled west by chariot to visit the goddess. The style of the mirror, with its sharply cast high relief, is close to that of mirrors excavated near Shaoxing in Zhejiang  province.

Published References
  • Shuichi Goto. Kanshiki kyo. Nihon kokogaku taikei, vol. 1. .
  • Ku ching tu lu. .
  • Sueji Umehara. Shoko kokyo shuei [Selected Ancient Mirrors Found at Shao-hing Tombs]. Showa 14 Kyoto. .
  • Sueji Umehara. Obei ni okeru shina kokyo. Tokyo. .
  • Sueji Umehara. Kankyo no Kenkyu. Tokyo. .
  • Sueji Umehara. Kan Sangoku Rikucho kinenkyo shuroku. Tokyo. .
  • Kenzo Tomioka. Tokaan Kokyo Zuroku [Ancient Chinese Mirrors from the Collection of the Late Kenzo Tomioka]. Kyoto. .
  • Kenzo Tomioka. Kokyo no Kenkyu. Kyoto. .
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Early Chinese Mirror Inscriptions. vol. 6 Stockholm. pp. 9-79.
  • W. Perceval Yetts. Two Chinese Mirrors. vol. 74, no. 430 London, January 1939. pp. 23-28.
  • Compiled by the staff of the Freer Gallery of Art. A Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes: Acquired During the Administration of John Ellerton Lodge. Oriental Studies Series, no. 3 Washington, 1946. p. 39, pl. 74.
  • Benjamin Goldberg. The Mirror and Man. Charlottesville. p. 45.
  • A.D. Brankston. Chinese Bronze Mirrors from the District of Yueh. vol. 17 London, 1939-1940. pp. 56-64.
  • Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. p. 66, fig. 68.
  • Florance Waterbury. Bird-Deities in China. Supplementum 10 Ascona, Switzerland. p. 129, pl. 48.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.