Collections: Arts of the Americas: Mirror Handle

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Tile from a Royal Funerary Structure

Rows of green-glazed rectangles like these examples tiled the walls of rooms beneath King Djoser\'s Step Pyramid and another nearby building...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: Snuff Mortar (Tesa Ya Ma Kanya)

    The figure forming the stopper of this snuff container can be identified as a chief by the elaborate headdress, or mutwe wa kaynda, he wears...


    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


    86.224.4_PS2.jpg 86.224.4_bw.jpg

    Mirror Handle

    This exquisitely carved Chimú mirror handle originally held a pyrite mirror in the concave area at the back. The object’s depiction of trophy heads (seen in the hands of the male figure) is rare for the period. The figure’s opulent attire, with a crescent headdress, serpent-headed collar, and sleeved tunic, indicates that he is a member of the ruling elite. Sacrificial victims have been found in high-status burials, and the trophy heads on this object may therefore allude to the status of the mirror’s owner.

    Este mango de espejo Chimú exquisitamente tallado, originalmente sostenía un espejo de pirita en el área cóncava posterior. La representación de cabezas trofeo en este objeto (vistas en las manos de la figura masculina) es poco común en este periodo. La opulenta vestimenta de la figura, con un tocado de media luna, collar de serpiente bicéfala, y túnica con mangas, indica que era un miembro de la clase gobernante. Victimas sacrificadas se han encontrado en entierros de alta posición social, por lo que las cabezas trofeo en este objeto podrían aludir al rango del dueño del espejo.

    • Culture: Chimú
    • Medium: Wood, gold, turquoise, red pigment
    • Place Found: North Coast, Peru
    • Dates: ca. 850-1470
    • Period: Late Intermediate Period (1000-1450)
    • Dimensions: 11 5/8 x 5 9/16 in. (29.5 x 14.1 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of the Americas
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 86.224.4
    • Credit Line: Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Chimú. Mirror Handle, ca. 850-1470. Wood, gold, turquoise, red pigment, 11 5/8 x 5 9/16 in. (29.5 x 14.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.224.4. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 86.224.4_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
    • Catalogue Description: Wooden mirror handle with carvings that portray a well-dressed individual, standing on a small pedestal, holding a trophy head in each hand. The individual wears a tunic with sleeves, a crescent-shaped headdress, and a collar with a serpent head. On the figure's tunic, headdress, legs, and elsewhere are triangles in relief. On the handle, collar, and headdress are turquoise bead inlays. Around the inlays are traces of red pigment. The eyes of the central figure as well as the eyes of the trophy heads are inlaid with thin sheets of gold that are covered over with red pigment. In the back of the carving is a shallow circular cavity which probably held a pyrite mirror. Condition: The front of the proper left side of the handle is damaged; the headdress of the central figure is chipped, broken, and repaired; the tunic has two gouges; the hair of each trophy head is chipped along the edges; the end of the handle is cracked. The object reveals overall surface wear.
    • Record Completeness: Best (86%)
    advanced 110,591 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

    Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

    Before you comment...

    We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

    Why are some objects not on view?

    The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

    How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

    The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

    Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

    The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

    I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

    How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

    How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

    Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

    How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

    Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

    Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

    The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

    How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

    Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

    I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.