Inscription: Youfeng (translated: right summit)
The central knob within a circular reserve with a scroll of stylized mythical animals, within a square reserve, the outer field with 'TLV' pattern, eight nipples and various celestial animals including the turtle intertwined with a snake, a dragon, a tiger, a phoenix, all within narrow bands and hatched lines, and below a dogtooth band and a band of clouds around the rim.
A TLV mirror is a type of circular bronze mirror with engraved symbols resembling the letters T, L, and V. According to Schuyler Camman, the design of TLV mirrors is cosmologically significant. The V shapes serves to give the inner square the appearance of being placed in the middle of a cross. This forms an illustration of the Chinese idea of the five directions – North, South, West, East and Center. The central square represents China as the ‘Middle Kingdom.’ The area in between the central square and the circle represents the ‘Four Seas.’ During the Han Dynasty the ‘Four Seas’ represented territories outside China. The central square within the round mirror alludes to the ancient Chinese idea that heaven is round, and earth is square. The Ts represent the concept of the ‘Four Gates of the Middle Kingdom,’ an idea present in Chinese literature. The Ls symbolize the marshes and swamps beyond the ‘Four Seas,’ at the ends of the earth. The eight nipples outside of the central square are a representation of the Eight Pillars, mountains that held up the canopy of heaven.
Shape: Round mirror
Weight: 1371 grams
Dimensions: 18 cm
Condition: Very good condition with some wear and extensive patina, as customary for a piece of this age
Provenance: American private collection. Old collector label to back.
Auction result comparison: FINE CHINESE CERAMICS & WORKS OF ART. Sotheby's, 16 - 17 SEPTEMBER 2014, NEW YORK, lot 128. (for a similar mirror, but slightly smaller)
中國，漢代（ 206 BC – 220 AD）