Bronze mirrors—highly polished on one side and decorated on the reverse—were a common luxury item throughout East Asia and appear to have originated in China early in the country’s development of bronze technology, around 1700 B.C.E. or earlier. Both examples of Goryeo-period mirrors shown here make reference to Chinese sources. One shows a sage and a man with an ox standing on either side of a tree. It appears to represent the ancient Chinese story of Ning Qi, who was recruited to be a government adviser despite being a lowly cattle driver. The other mirror copies a known Chinese design, but in reverse, including backward Chinese characters, suggesting that the carver of the mold did not take into account that the final image would be flipped when it was cast.
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Mirror, 918-1392. Bronze, 1/2 x 6 1/16 in. (1.3 x 15.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, 34.5852. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 34.5852_PS11.jpg)
overall, 34.5852_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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