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TWO MINIATURE INLAID BRONZE MIRRORS
PROPERTY OF VARIOUS OWNERS
TWO MINIATURE INLAID BRONZE MIRRORS

TANG DYNASTY (618-907)

Details
TWO MINIATURE INLAID BRONZE MIRRORS
Tang dynasty (618-907)
One of circular form, inlaid with a reticulated gold sheet plaque designed as clouds spiralling outwards from a central crouching frog and decorated with fine granulation and turquoise inlay, all within a similarly decorated outer border of foliate scroll; the other of six-lobed flower form inlaid with a parcel-gilt silver sheet chased with three small lions racing amidst scrolling foliage within a conforming border and reserved on a ring-punched ground
2¼ and 2½in. (5.7 and 6.4cm.) diam., boxes (2)

Lot Essay

Tiny mirrors such as these were known as 'inch mirrors' (cunjing) or 'sleeve mirrors' (xiujing) due to their extremely portable nature. Popular during the Tang, such small but intricately decorated mirrors were favored by nobility. The six-lobed design is a characteristic feature of Tang mirrors, and is considered both a modification of the traditional circular shape and a reflection of the luxury and prosperity of the period. The technique of decorating mirrors with gold or silver sheeting is not only representative of Tang opulence but is also a testament to the skill of Tang metalsmiths.

The design on the lobed mirror is a version of the famed 'lion and grapevine' pattern that was so prevalent during the Tang dynasty. Inch mirrors with this pattern do not have the grapes, pomegranates or other symbols that are typically present on their larger counterparts; instead, the fruits are suggested simply by the vines and the leaves. See a similar, foliate example in Bronze Mirrors from Ancient China: Donald H. Graham Collection, Hong Kong, 1994, no. 85.
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