Sunday, August 26, 2012
Chinese magic mirrors. Date and maker unknown. In the Bill Douglas Collection, University of Exeter. Reference #: BD069079, BD069083
The proper term for Chinese magic mirror is Tou Guang Jing 透光镜. It can be traced back to the Han dynasty era and was made of solid bronze with a shiny polished surface on one side with a design cast in bronze on the back. When sunlight or another bright light reflects onto the mirror, the mirror appears to become transparent. If the light is reflected from the mirror onto a wall, the pattern on the back of the mirror is then projected onto the wall, similar to how light reflects from ripples on water. Due to this transparent effect, they were called ‘light-penetration mirrors’ by the Chinese. This phenomenon of the mirror had puzzled people, including scientists for centuries. They became popular in Europe in the early 19th century and today imitations are made to amuse collectors as optical toys.
Image Source: University of Exeter Digital Collection, 1, 2
Posted by M. Christian