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Chinese Mirrors

Though uncommon until the Han dynasty, the Chinese made mirrors since the Neolithic period. Chinese mirrors are made from a bronze alloy rather than glass. This craft was developed primarily during the Han dynasty. Mirrors are cast with one flat side and one side decorated with intricate lines, symbols, and decorations surrounding a round knob in the middle. As time passed, the designs became less abstract and more figurative in their representation of motifs.

The technique used to create bronze mirrors in China during the Han dynasty also led to the development of the Chinese “Magic Mirror," also known as the “light-penetration” mirror due to its seemingly transparent quality. These bronze objects appeared to be perfectly smooth and mirror-like on one side, with a decoration on the other. However, when shown under a bright light like the sun, an image of the back decoration can be seen in the projection of the flat side.


Quick Facts

  • The development of these mirrors greatly improved the lives of the Han Chinese. Prior to the invention of the bronze mirror, the Chinese would look into a basin full of water in order to see his or her reflection
  • The reflection of the back image of the magic mirror onto a wall is created by subtle and small variations in the bronze surface that are undetectable by the naked eye, and can only be felt by a master magic mirror maker
  • One of the earliest excavated bronze mirrors has been dated as far back as 2000 B.C.

Recommended Items at Auction

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Plate with lotus décor, China,
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Plate with lotus décor, China,
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1604 Bids
Antique 19th C Gilt Wood Wall Mirror w Sconces
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique 19th C Gilt Wood Wall Mirror w Sconces
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $200- $300
$702 Bids
Chinese Gilt Hand Mirror With Cabochons
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
Chinese Gilt Hand Mirror With Cabochons
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $20- $15,000
$201 Bid
A CHINESE BRONZE MIRROR.
Nov 19, 9:00 AM GMT
A CHINESE BRONZE MIRROR.
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £1,000- £2,000
£1,0001 Bid
Erte - All Sails Up
Nov 11, 12:00 PM EST
Erte - All Sails Up
by Dane Fine Art Auctions
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$8000 Bids
BRONZE MIRROR WITH CHINESE LETTERS 铜镜
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
BRONZE MIRROR WITH CHINESE LETTERS 铜镜
by Hardt Auctions GmbH
Est: €100- €200
€800 Bids
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST 'VINES' MIRROR
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST 'VINES' MIRROR
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST MIRROR
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST MIRROR
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST MIRROR
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST MIRROR
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Octagonal fruit plate, KPM Ber
Nov 03, 10:00 AM CET
Octagonal fruit plate, KPM Ber
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
Six fruit plates, Meissen, Kna
Nov 03, 10:00 AM CET
Six fruit plates, Meissen, Kna
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids
Large plate, China, 19th/20th
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Large plate, China, 19th/20th
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
Small Satsuma Bowl, Japan, 1st
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Small Satsuma Bowl, Japan, 1st
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
CHINESE DRAGONS JADE MIRROR
Oct 28, 9:00 AM EDT
CHINESE DRAGONS JADE MIRROR
by Ander's Auction
Est: $1,200- $1,600
$6000 Bids
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST 'MOUNTAIN' MIRROR
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
ARCHAIC BRONZE CAST 'MOUNTAIN' MIRROR
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$1,5000 Bids
GROUP OF BATTERSEA/BILSTON BOXES
Nov 13, 11:00 AM EST
GROUP OF BATTERSEA/BILSTON BOXES
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
A Chinese bronze 'xiniu' mirror holder
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
A Chinese bronze 'xiniu' mirror holder
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £150- £250
£1500 Bids
A group of Tibetan items
Nov 11, 10:30 AM GMT
A group of Tibetan items
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £200- £300
£2000 Bids
Two Chinese silvered bronze mirrors
Nov 11, 10:30 AM GMT
Two Chinese silvered bronze mirrors
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £150- £250
£1400 Bids
Vintage Chinese Poetic Prose Bronze Mirror
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
Vintage Chinese Poetic Prose Bronze Mirror
by Quan Rong Gallery
Est: $400- $500
$1590 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Mirrors


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus

Mega International Auction Inc.

Mega International Auction Inc.

Roland Auctions NY

Roland Auctions NY