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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Circular Mirror with Articulated Lip and Decoration of Flying Birds and Blossoming Plants
Work Type
12th-14th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Korea
Koryŏ dynasty, 918-1392
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast bronze
Diam. 10.6 cm (4 3/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Robert D. Mowry, Brookline, MA (1968-2010) gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2010.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Robert D. Mowry
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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A well-articulated, relief lip encircles the periphery of this circular mirror; on the mirror's decorated back, a single bowstring line rises in relief about one centimeter in from the lip, segregating the border from the central field. Scrolling foliage, punctuated with a few small blossoms, surrounds the central field, appearing between the lip and the bowstring line. The decoration of the central field is symmetrically arranged around the small central boss (from which a silk cord would have been attached for holding the mirror or for attaching it to a mirror stand). The decorative scheme includes two blossoming plants and two birds, their wings spread in flight, their medium-length tails trailing behind. With the mirror arranged so that the central boss' perforation is horizontally oriented, one bird appears on either side of the boss. One growing plant appears above the boss and one below; each plant boasts one blossom fully open and seen from above as well as two smaller blossoms, one on either side of the larger blossom, that are seen in three-quarter view from below. Short, stylized petals radiate from the base of the central boss, so that the boss suggests a central point, or axis, about which the overall design revolves. 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 much of that patina has been crudely scraped off in modern times. Several small casting flaws (in the form of small pits) on the mirror's reflecting surface resulted from air bubbles in the molten bronze during casting. A more serious casting flaw, also due to an air bubble in the molten bronze during casting, resulted in a small hole that completely perforates the mirror at the outer edge, just inside the lip; the hole was filled with a small piece of metal after casting.

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