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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Circular Mirror with Decoration of Chinese Zodiac Animals and Auspicious Characters
Work Type
12th-14th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Korea
Koryŏ dynasty, 918-1392
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast bronze
Diam. 17.8 cm (7 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[through ?, Korea, mid 1960s]; to Jerry Lee Musslewhite (mid 1960s-2009); to Estate of Jerry Lee Musslewhite (2009-2010), sold; to Harvard Art Museums, 2010.

NOTE: Jerry Lee Musslewhite was an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense who worked in the Republic of Korea from 1965 to 1969.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Purchase through the generosity of Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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A thin, well-defined, relief lip borders this circular mirror's decorated back. The decorative scheme is organized into five concentric rings with the crouching-beast-form boss at the center; a raised bowstring separates each register from the adjoining one. The outermost register features an auspicious inscription in stylized Chinese characters (i.e., stylized seal script characters). The next register boasts several human hunters holding bows and arrows and a variety of animals--from ferocious beasts to snakes, fish, and crabs, for example; the bowstring line that separates this register from the outermost register serves as the ground line for the animals and hunters. The next register sports the twelve emblems of the Chinese zodiac; the zodiac figures stand on the bowstring line that separates this register from the one with animals and hunters. The next register features the eight trigrams from the Yijing along with an auspicious inscription of eight characters; the Yijing trigrams alternate with the characters of the inscription. The innermost register-in reality, the circular medallion at the center of the mirror--depicts the four Chinese directional symbols arrayed around the central boss: the Green Dragon of the East, the Red Phoenix of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Intertwined Snake and Tortoise of the North. The reflecting face of the mirror is flat and undecorated. An even, celadon-green patina covers the mirror's decorated back; the same patina originally covered the reflecting face, though some of that patina has been crudely scraped away in modern times.

Verification Level

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at