East Asia, China, Tang Dynasty, ca. 618 to 906 CE. A finely cast leaded-bronze circular mirror with a flat, polished face and a verso featuring an intricate scene of stylized lions in relief. Bronze, a precious material, was used for mirrors by the wealthy and elite, by polishing one face until it was highly reflective. The rim of the verso is slightly lifted, created a recessed area for the zoomorphic and foliate decorations. The verso is then elegantly detailed with 5 lions running through vines and grape clusters that encircle the central knob. The lions are very similar to dogs in appearance, while known throughout Asia for their majesty, very few artisans had likely ever seen these animals in person, leaving their imagery up to imagination. The lion-and-grapevine motif was popular in China, meant to symbolize the harmony of the universe and the balance of the forces of nature. The grapevine theme seems to have come from as far away as the Sassanian Empire, brought from Persia along the Silk Road. Size: 3.5" Diameter (8.9 cm)
Provenance: private Los Angeles, California, USA collection, acquired 1980s to 2000s
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Stable hairline fissure and pinhole cavities on the polished, flat face. Areas of the silvery surface are visible under the russet patina. The verso is very good with sharp details of the lions and vines visible. Minor softening of a few areas and surface pitting. Chips to handle knob opening. Green patina and scattered mineral and earthen deposits.