Important Cultural PropertyVotive Mirror with Amida (Skt. Amitābha)

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  • 銅鏡(松喰鶴文)
  • 1 piece
  • Cast bronze
  • D 20.5
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 900(工187)

  A votive mirror is that Buddhas and bodhisattvas etc. are incised on the mirror surface. As far as we can tell from the existing works, a votive mirror started to appear in the mid Heian period (794–1185) and there are some theories about the origin, such as the theory that Shinto deities in their Buddhist form (honji butsu) under the trace manifestation theory (honji suijaku) appears in sacred mirrors or the other that it is a principal of esoteric Buddhism to use a mirror as if it is a moon ring (gachirin) where Buddhist deities appears. This article is a large round shaped bronze votive mirror engraved with Amida (Skt. Amitābha) with a halo of flames sitting in the lotus position (kekka fuza) on the lotus pedestal and forming the meditation mudra on the legs on the surface of the mirror. Evidence of tin plating (toshaku) can be seen on the surface of the mirror. The incised design (keri bori) is used, while the consecutively incised design (zurase bori) is used for the face and Buddha’s curls. These carving techniques are very delicate, and the design well presents the features and calm atmosphere of the late Heian period. The body of mirror is a double-edged, and a low round knob with a hole on the center of the back. This is a typical thin mirror with design of cranes carrying a branch of pine (matsukui zuru) in which a round string is placed on the center of the back and a pair of cranes carrying pine branch are symmetrically placed in the inner area with pine needles splattering both the inner and outer areas. However, as there is no string, this is not an article converted from a real mirror and it was made as an imitation mirror (gikyō) from the beginning with the intention of engraving an image of Buddha.