Bronze mirrors were thought to offer protection against evil spirits. The mythological patterns cast into them have very specific, ritualistic functions. This exquisite small example is typical of the very powerful mirrors that were produced in the second half of the Eastern Han. Its borders consist of a band of sawtooth pattern, and a hachured ring, encircling a dramatic creature - a clawed, one-horned tiger (Longhuwen) in a mystical form (hence the name Long hu, meaning dragon-tiger). Its hairy body, which parallels the curvature of the encircling rings is decorated with a nipple pattern (Rudingwen) - fourteen in this case - that became more and more popular as a decorative element on mirrors as the dynasty drew to a close. It is difficult to imagine a more ferocious protective force; a contrast presumably to the image of beauty that would have been reflected on the other side.
Size: diameter 9.3 cm.
Condition: Excellent condition; some surface verdigris; the surface of the mirror side for the most part retains much of its polish, and there are also traces of black lacquer applied perhaps in the Ming dynasty. There is a good wooden box with slight damage.