Japanese Bronze Wedding Mirror (Edo Period)
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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Metalwork: Pre 1900: Item # 1220077
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This Japanese bronze handled mirror measures about 8 inches in diameter (21cm) with an extended handle which increases the full height to about 12 inches or 30 centimeters(cm).
It dates to the late Edo Period or Early Meiji period ( about the middle of the 19th century (1840-1860).
It is signed in the left portion of the front. It also has birds flying over churning waves in the ocean.
It still has most of it's silver ovrlay on the two large Kanji marks on the front. It also has remnants of it's silver on the reverse or "Face" of the mirror.
Bronze mirrors were introduced into Japan from China and Korea about 300 BC - AD 300.
At first they had a religious function and were regarded as symbols of authority.
The Japanese soon learned to make their own mirrors using lost-wax casting and decorated them with Japanese or Chinese designs.
By the Nara period (AD 710-794) mirrors were made for everyday use and used designs such as plants and animals to symbolize good fortune.
From the Kamakura period (1185-1333) a design showing H˘raizan (the Chinese 'Island of Immortality') became popular.. More new designs and the first handled mirrors appeared in the Muromachi period (1333-1568).
During the Edo period (1600-1868), mirrors decorated with lucky symbols or Chinese characters were given at weddings. Mirrors became larger as hairstyles became more ornate; some mirrors in Kabuki theatre dressing-rooms were up to fifty centimetres across and were placed on stands. The faces of mirrors were highly polished or burnished, with itinerant tinners and polishers specializing in this work. Since the mirror, together with the sword and the jewel, were symbols of Imperial power, mirror-makers were deeply revered and often given honorary titles such as Tenka-Ichi ('First under Heaven'). However, this title was often misused and was officially prohibited in 1682. Bronze mirrors were replaced by glass mirrors after the Meiji Restoration (1868).