Important Cultural PropertyBronze Mirror Decorated with Four Buddhist Images and Four Animals

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  • 1 item
  • Diameter: 24.1cm
  • Kofun period
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • J甲320

The back of this mirror has a design comprised of outer and inner sections. The outer section has a thin band of lozenge clouds and a slightly thicker pictorial band, while the inner section has four Buddhist images and four animals encircled by a band of alternating semi-circles and squares. These Buddhist images serve as an important reference in the study of early Chinese Buddhist iconography. Of the six extant mirrors with the same design, this one has the highest quality casting, and is best preserved. Its motifs and composition tell us that it was made by "replica casting" (J. fumikaeshi-chuzo) using a clay mold taken from a fourth-century Chinese mirror. The earliest examples in Japan were excavated from fifth to sixth-century burial mounds; all of them were made by the same casting technique. This mirror, therefore, is thought also to postdate the early fifth century. The excavation site is unknown, but the inscription on its wooden box, which reads "Kongorin-ji Temple of Kawachi Province," indicates its provenance and suggests that this mirror came from a tumulus near present-day Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture.