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Star and Cloud Mirror

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
Studies of the cosmos and astrology were popular in early China, and artisans used many symbols to picture the universe, as on the back of this bronze mirror. The raised designs on the outer rim represent mountain ranges that circumscribe the world and reach the sky. The central field contains constellations of rising and setting stars and planets while the central knob represents the polar star. In ancient Chinese texts, raised circular star motifs are given various names, including “star and cloud” (xing yun), “strung pearls” (lian zhu), or “hundred nipples” (bai ru). In ancient China, a round shape usually referred to Heaven while a square shape referred to Earth. However, mirrors were typically round without necessarily having a celestial meaning.
MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.
    DYNASTY Western Han Dynasty
    PERIOD Han Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 7/8 x 6 1/16 in. (2.2 x 15.4 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 1992.82
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Star and Cloud Mirror, 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E. Bronze, 7/8 x 6 1/16 in. (2.2 x 15.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council, 1992.82. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.82_transp4479.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1992.82_transp4479.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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     <em>Star and Cloud Mirror</em>, 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E. Bronze, 7/8 x 6 1/16 in. (2.2 x 15.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council, 1992.82. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.82_transp4479.jpg)