The first half of the Tang dynasty was a particularly prosperous period in Chinese history. International traders flocked to the capital of Chang’an (modern day Xi‘an), bringing with them all manner of luxurious wares to satisfy the sophisticated and opulent taste of the court and aristocracy. Among the goods transported were exotic birds, such as parrots and parakeets, which enjoyed popularity as pets among the wealthy, as alluded to by the beaded collars encircling the necks of the parrots decorating this exceptional silvery bronze mirror.
Exquisitely cast bronze mirrors of this type were a staple in a woman’s boudoir and a popular marriage gift, the use of which is often reinforced by the symbolic motifs decorating them. Paired birds, such as Mandarin ducks, cranes, egrets and peacocks, and more rarely parrots, are often found on flower-shaped mirrors, and represent conjugal bliss and fidelity. The elaborate tassel partially obscured by one of the parrots represents shou, the decorative knot from a woman’s belt, which once tied can only be undone by her husband.
A bronze mirror cast with parrots grasping knotted tassels (shou) in their beaks is illustrated by Umehara Sueiji, Tokyo taikan (Conspectus of Tang Mirrors), Bijutsu Shoin, 1948, vol. 1, pl. 55.
A full scientific examination report is available upon request.