Mirror with the animals of the four directions

Historical period(s)
Han dynasty, 1st-2nd century
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Diam x D: 14.3 x 1 cm (5 5/8 x 3/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1937.30
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Mirror
Type

Mirror

Keywords
animal, bird, casting, China, dragon, Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), snake, the four directions, tiger, tortoise, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1937
J.W.A. Kleykamp, New York. [1]

From 1937
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from J.W.A. Kleykamp, New York. [2]

Notes:

[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

J.W.A. Kleykamp

Label

The significance of this "TLV" mirror as a diagram of the universe is enhanced by the presence of the animals of the four directions: the white tiger of the west, the blue dragon of the east, the vermilion bird of the south, and the dark warrior (tortoise and snake) of the north. The four animal deities appear between the T, L, and V elements in the main decorative zone.

Published References
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 5.
  • Orvar Karlbeck. Catalogue of the Collection of Chinese and Korean Bronzes at Hallwyl House. Stockholm. pp. 27-30.
  • Vincent Virga, Library of Congress. Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations., 1st ed. New York. p. 45, pl. 34.
  • 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. 72, pl. 38.
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Huai and Han. no. 13 Stockholm. pp. 113-114, pls. 79-80.
  • A. E. K. Cull, James K. Cull, W. Perceval Yetts. The Cull Chinese Bronzes. London. pp. 116-165.
  • Florance Waterbury. Bird-Deities in China. Supplementum 10 Ascona, Switzerland. p. 119, pl. 34.
  • Schuyler Cammann. The "TLV" Pattern on Cosmic Mirrors of the Han Dynasty. vol. 68, no. 4, October-December 1948. pp. 159, 164, fig. 1.
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.