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HomeSCIENCEThe 600-year-old bronze mirror reflects the image of Amitabha Buddha

The 600-year-old bronze mirror reflects the image of Amitabha Buddha

Researchers at the Cincinnati museum in Cincinnati discovered a mirror from the Han Dynasty in China that shows the image of Amitabha Buddha when illuminated at the right angle.

The marvelous bronze mirror at the cincinnati art museum. Photo: scmp

The marvelous bronze mirror at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Image: SCMP

Dr. Sung Hou-mei, curator of East Asian Art at the Cincinnati Art Museum searched for ancient art pieces collected from 1961 and noticed a 16th-century mirror with Chinese characters in it. On the back, write Amitabha Buddha’s name. Sung decided to test one theory and asked a colleague to shine a light directly in the center of a mirror stored in a warehouse from 2017. South China Morning Post reported on July 25.

The light reflected from the mirror reveals the image of Amitabha Buddha surrounded by many rays of light. “The miraculous Buddha-shaped mirror is designed to bring hope and salvation. I checked the mirror because through research I found a similar mirror,” Sung said.

Amitabha buddha image reflected in the mirror. Photo: scmp

Amitabha Buddha image reflected in the mirror. Image: SCMP

The Buddha-shaped miracle mirror, also known as a transparent mirror or luminescent mirror, was first made in China during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). Due to the difficulty of production, this type of mirror is extremely rare. The Shanghai Museum has many mirrors from the Han Dynasty. But researchers have only recorded two miraculous Buddha mirrors, both from Japan, one on display at the Tokyo National Museum and the other at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

According to the UNESCO Digital Library, the mirrors are made of bronze and engraved on the back. The reflector is convex and polished. Finally, the sculptor applies a liquid or paste made of mercury to accentuate the image. When the mirror is held up to the light at the right angle, copper reflects the light, revealing a secret image like Amitabha Buddha in the case at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Amitabha Buddha’s name engraved on the back of a mirror at Cincinnati may be evidence that the mirror is more significant than previously thought. According to Sung, it is more likely that the mirror was used for religious purposes and is associated with the Pure Land sect’s belief in Amitabha Buddha. After taking it out of the warehouse, the mirror has been on display at the museum since July 23.

An Khang (Follow SCMP)

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