On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
This is a popular type of Han-dynasty mirror, defined by the symmetrical arrangement of three geometric motifs resembling the Roman letters T, L, and V around the central knob. Scholars have suggested that the pattern is modeled after compasses (gui) and try squares (ju) used to mark 90-degree angles; these tools were often depicted on Han-dynasty stone engravings, in the hands of the mythological creators Fuxi and Nuwa when they were symbolically measuring and defining the cosmos. This particular mirror was purchased in 1909 in Shanghai by Stewart Culin (1858–1929), the Brooklyn Museum’s first curator of ethnology (1903–29).
Early Han Dynasty (possibly)
Museum Expedition 1909, Purchased with funds given by Thomas T. Barr, E. LeGrand Beers, Carll H. de Silver, Herman B. Stutzer, Colonel Robert B. Woodward and Museum Collection Fund
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TLV-Type Mirror, 25-220. Bronze, 1/2 x 5 1/8 in. (1.3 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1909, Purchased with funds given by Thomas T. Barr, E. LeGrand Beers, Carll H. de Silver, Herman B. Stutzer, Colonel Robert B. Woodward and Museum Collection Fund, 10.58. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 10.58_PS9.jpg)
overall, 10.58_PS9.jpg., 2019
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Mirror, circular, quite thin, of medium size, of the Han "T L V" type. Bronze. The back has the usual pierced round knob in the center set in a square decorated with T-shaped projections on the middle of each side of the square, one of the L-shapes issuing from the outer edge of the field opposite each T, and one of the inverted V-shapes similarly placed opposite each angle of the frame, set in a ground of fantastic animals, birds, men and scrolls and small regularly disposed nipples, all done in low relief. Between this field and the higher broad rim is a narrow band of oblique lines. The rim has a narrow band of zigzags and a broader border of scrolls. The front is spotted rather dirty yellow and the back is dark silver gray.
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