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. . . is for bronze

Bronze Lion & Grapevine Mirror

9.3 x 9.3 cm. (3 5/8 x 3 5/8 in.)

Tang dynasty
8th century

The silvered-bronze square mirror is deeply molded with a central design of four lions curled up in a each of the four corners among fruiting grapevines and surrounding a central frog-shaped knob. The exterior band consists of birds with outstretched wings facing each of the four corners, a vine with curling tendrils, leaves and bunches of grapes scrolling through the band supporting birds and providing an environment for moths and dragonflies.

The lion-and-grapevine theme was a result of two imports from the western world, the lion intricately bound with Buddhist beliefs, the symbol of the Buddha himself, and the fruiting, leaf-laden grape vine with its delicate meandering tendrils providing materials for delectable dining and drinking as well as inspiration for lively decorative designs in all the various arts and crafts, becoming a symbol of fertility and abundance. The composite theme struck the right note, a highly exotic, meaningful, and gripping one, explaining the immense popularity during the Tang period of mirrors so decorated.

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