Name: Bronze Mirror 
Register No.: R01117 
Location: Sacrificial Pit M1005, Hsi-pei-kang, Anyang, Honan 
Size: Diameter of front side 6.7, of rear side 6.5; thickness ca.0.3, height (with knob) 1.25 cm 
Weight: 64.7gram 

Description: There is a knob at the center of the back of the mirror. The face of the mirror is slightly convex. Wave line patterns decorate its periphery. The space between the knob and periphery is divided into four quadrants, each decorated with straight lines. Lines in a quadrant are vertical to those of the neighboring quadrant. The knob is a half ring with angles; it attaches to the back of the mirror as an arch bridge. There are no decorative patterns on it. The knob looks like an oval from the side; it is most thick at the two angles and most thin at the point where it is attached to the back of the mirror. 

On December 23rd, 1934, the Institute excavated a bronze mirror belonging to the Shang dynasty. The process taken to name this bronze mirror is rather complicated: The mirror was found inside Tomb 1005 of Hsi-pei-kang near the village of Hou-chia-chuang, by the western wall of the burial room. Because when it was discovered, the front side of the mirror was facing up and the knob down, it appeared to be a round, flat bronze piece; thus the illustrator and recorder of the field work at the time dubbed it “a bronze disk.” Liang Ssu-yung (1904-1954), noticing the knob on the back, thought the object should be considered as a bronze mirror of the Shang dynasty. However, not every scholar agrees with him. In 1958, when Kao Chu-hsun (fl. 1909-1991) analyzed this object according to its size, thickness, the rim, the pattern, its face and the type of the knob, he judged that it fulfilled every requirement to be called a mirror – a bronze mirror of the Shang dynasty. Before the year 1976, the Archeology Institute of the Chinese Social Science Academy had excavated four such bronze mirrors from Fu Hao Tomb of the Yin remains. Owing to these four mirrors, it is now accepted that mirrors existed in the Shang dynasty. Moreover, in an excavation report written in 2001, Shih Chang-ju (1902 –2004) further proposed two hypotheses on the function of these mirrors: one that the mirrors were sundials, the other that the mirrors were used to reflect the sun light in order to make fire. 

But the bronze mirrors of the Shang are not the earliest bronze mirrors in Chinese history. Long before the excavation of bronze mirrors in Fu Hao Tomb, archeologists had found one from the tomb of Ch’i-chia-p’ing at Kuang-ho County, Kansu; this discovery reveals that bronze mirrors existed as early as the Ch’i-chia culture. This was followed by the excavation of more bronze mirrors of Ch’i-chia culture in Kui-nan, Ch’i-hai Province. The discovery of bronze mirrors in Ch’i-chia culture therefore greatly advanced our understanding of the history of mirror manufacturing in ancient china.
(by Ding Rui-mao) 


1. 高去尋,<殷代的一面銅鏡及其相關之問題>,《中央研究院歷史語言研究所集刊》第29本,p.685-719,1958年。 
2. 石璋如,《侯家莊第十本小墓分述之一1005、1022等八墓與殷代的司烜氏》,南港:中央研究院歷史語言研究所,2001年。 
3. 中國社會科學院考古研究所,《殷墟婦好墓》,北京:文物出版社,1980年。 
4. 孔祥星、劉一曼,《中國古銅鏡》,台北:藝術圖書公司,1994年。
  • An Early Period Bronze Mirror from China


  • Bronze Mirror excavatedfrom Tomb M1005 in Hsi-pei-kang

    Bronze Mirror excavatedfrom Tomb M1005 in Hsi-pei-kang