"Magic Mirror"... Reflection reveals centuries-old details

14 July, 2022
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"Magic Mirror"... Reflection reveals centuries-old details

Ho Mi Sung, curator of the East Asian Art Collection at the Cincinnati Museum, was unaware that the shelves housed an ancient artifact whose details accurately reflected the reality in which it was found.

"Last spring, I visited the museum's storage rooms with a restoration expert," Song said.

He added: We saw strange reflections on the wall, which necessitated the use of more powerful and focused light, and the surprise was that the mirror finally revealed the image of Buddha.

He explained that the rays of light emitted from her, clearly revealed the inscription on her back above the wall. The ancient art of Chinese magic mirrors was first developed during the Han Dynasty, about 2,000 years ago, although they were also made later in Japan.

Craftsmen engraved images, words or patterns on one side of a bronze plate, so that it is as reflective as the traditional mirror we use today.

When sunlight hits the reflective surface, a hidden image is revealed, matching the design on the back, giving the illusion that the light is passing straight through the mirror.

The mirror is about 8.5 inches in diameter and may have been used in a museum as a religious decoration, or it may have been hung in a temple. It has not yet been established whether she originated in China or Japan, although Song is likely to return to the former.

The piece was first recorded in the museum's Asian art collection in 1961.


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