late 600s–early 700s
Diameter: 20 cm (7 7/8 in.)
Gift of Drs. Thomas and Martha Carter in Honor of Sherman E. Lee 1995.365
Four stylized mountains in diminutive scale represent the cardinal directions around the animal-shaped knob at the center of the mirror.
Corrosion has covered this mirror's surface with an uneven layer of green patination. Otherwise, this medium-sized mirror is strong in impact and dynamic in movement. The border arrangement is typical, with eight compartments for four types of decoration arranged in pairs across the same axis. Other than the cloud scrolls, which have been radically transformed so as to be almost unrecognizable, the rest are fine portrayals of insects and plants—a typical arrangement for Tang mirrors, perhaps of the eighth century.
The chief focus, of course, lies in the inner circle, which has gained in size and dimension. At its center is a crouching beast. Action is most apparent in the sequence of the hunt, with hunters on horses, shooting with bow and arrow at the prey, or carrying a long lance for the attack. The prey includes bear, deer, rabbit, and boar—their size and pose being sufficiently varied. The insistence on horror vacui (fear of empty spaces) is apparent; wherever the likelihood of a vacant space exists, the maker of the mirror has inserted a plant to fill the void. The result is a fast-paced whirling motion that never ends.
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