Important Cultural PropertyMirror with auspicious flower and phoenix design

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  • 1 piece
  • Nickel and copper alloy
  • Heian period/11-12th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • E-19934

Following the example of Chinese bronze mirrors, mirrors have been produced in Japan since the Yayoi period. In the Nara period, many bronze mirrors (Tang mirrors) were brought in from Tang and the so-called Tang-style mirrors were actively cast using the Chinese mirrors as molds or modeling after them. In the Heian period, while still being based on the patterns of Tang mirrors, the representation of patterns became gentler and their composition became rotational.
This mirror represents one of the Tang-style mirrors of the Heian period. It is cast in bronze and its exterior edge is in the shape of eight petals with a dividing line of the same shape separating the inside area from the outside area. In the inside area, there is a knob on a flower petal-shaped base in the center, around which two phoenixes and two auspicious flowers alternate. The outside area is decorated with an arabesque pattern.
The shape and design composition of this mirror clearly demonstrate the characteristics of mirrors of the Heian period. At first glance, the phoenixes look like a pair of mandarin ducks, another popular motif and it is hard to distinguish between the two. With the excellent casting finish and clear patterns, this mirror is a valuable example of the mirrors of that time.