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Silla Bronze Mirror

Abstract

Bronze mirrors initially appeared in Korea around the middle of the first millennium B.C. The dating of Korean mirrors is problematic for the lack of sources. This mirror is attributed the Silla period; a period of major creative force in the arts of Korea history; a period when imitations of Chinese mirrors and Korean-made pieces were simultaneously made. Artistic creativity of this period marks a departure from the rigid comparmentalized designs of early mirrors to a free refreshing design, suggesting that Silla mirrors were produced in the more peaceful years of the Koryo. Furthermore, in the past, mirrors were often copied, imported, as in the case of Japanese mirrors. Early mirrors are approximately 8-11 cm with simple geometric decorative patterns, slightly smaller than this one. To determine the authenticity, the provenance, and the exact period of this mirror would need extensive scientific analysis of the metal alloy content (copper, tin, or lead). The content of this report could only attempt to analyze the motifs of the period, which appear to be Korean in origin. Silla royal and aristocrat's tombs preserve objects of splendor with extraordinary beauty and sophisticated craftsmanship. Their quality and design reflect the Silla elite's refined tastes and their impetus in expressing social and political status. The shape of this mirror has a scalloped edge with pointed lobes in imitation of floral forms, symbolical of auspiciousness and prosperity, and stylized clouds that embellish the lobed petals. One side is flat and not well polished with sign of corrosion; it serves as a reflective surface. The other has an eyelet in in the center for a tassel to hold or hang the mirror. The visible influence of Chinese mirrors reflects on the narrative theme of this mirror with raised decorations of two figures nestled in a beautiful landscape backdropwith rocks and verdure: a male figure sitting under a tree, probably a cypress tree with typical clumps of leaves, playing a musical instrument on his lap while a lady dances to the rhythm of his music. Such a euphonious scene! There are no facial features; yet, the clothing style and headdress help identify the genderof these figures. The overall design is symmetrical. The detailed expression reveals a variation of fine technique refinement characteristically of the Silla period. Although unique to Korea, the motifs and subjects of everyday associations suggest an artistic interchange between China and Korea at that period. Similar mirrors with anrrative themes were found in both China and Korea.

Note

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only. Acknowledgement to be given to the ASIANetwork-Luce Asian Art in the Undergraduate Curriculum Project and to the college from whose collection the work comes. The individual college retains copyright to the work.

Administrative Notes

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only. Acknowledgement to be given to the ASIANetwork-Luce Asian Art in the Undergraduate Curriculum Project and to the college from whose collection the work comes. The individual college retains copyright to the work.

Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply.
Publisher
Gettysburg College
PID
coccc:24075