Japanese mirror

Collection Type

  • Jewelry




Circular metal mirror with handle [.1] in original black lacquer fitted box [.2ab].


Descriptive Terms

magic mirrors
bronze (metal)
mercury and amalgam


"Answer to Query 2386. The magic mirror/is an honored object in every Japanese house-/hold. It is of mythologic origin, and sym-/bolizes the "soul of woman" as the sword/symbolizes the "soul of man." It consists of /a circular plate of bronze, from three to/twelve inshes in diameter, polished on the/face with mercury amalgam, and stamped on/the back with a pictorial design and and motto in/relief. On looking into the face of the mir-/ror no signs of this pattern on the back can/be seen; but when a light is reflected from/the face of the mirror on a screen, the design/on the former becomes strangely/visible on the screen. According to Profes-/sor Ayrton, the explanation of this magical/effect lies in the fact that the bronze of which/the mirror is composed has the property of so/contorting itself that its face is really mis-/shapen by the relieved pattern on the back, and in such a way that, when a strong light/is reflected from the face, it dimly reveals/the pattern to view. The two women with "butterfly wings"/may be regarded as symbolical...soul/plumed for its flight. The stor.....Jap-/anese symbol of returning......./budding life. It is a sacred bi.....the/Japanese and some other people.....the/former it is often associated with the plum-/tree blossom in artistic designs./H.K.W." (Printed in black ink on paper)



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