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Dragon Rectangular Bronze Mirror: Reflecting on History

May 19, 2010

Name: Rectangular Bronze Mirror with Dragon Patterns | 中文名: 龙纹矩形铜镜
Dated to:  202 B.C. ~ 9 A.D. | Culture: King of Qi, West Han Dynasty
Unearthed: 1978@Tomb of  King of Qi, Dawu, Zibo, Shandong | Current location: Zibo Museum, Shandong
Dimension: 115.1 x 57.5cm; weight: 56.5kg

Among the “National Treasure” class collections of Zibo Museum in Shandong, there is a “Rectangular Bronze Mirror with Dragon Patterns” from West Han Dynasty. It was unearthed in 1978 at the Tomb of King of Qi of West Han Dynasty. It is the most precious relic among numerous relics and information discovered in that tomb.

Since then, it has become a favored relic to historians and archaeologists around the world. It has been exhibited in Germany, Japan, Taiwan, etc. and generated great buzz. It is considered by Zibo museum as “No. 1 Top Treasure”.

This bronze mirror has the following unique characteristics:

1. Huge size.

This exquisite mirror is known as the largest bronze mirror in the world as ever recorded or excavated. It is truly a precious wonder.

2. Rectangular shape.

Its rectangular shape is extremely rare among excavated big bronze mirrors. Most mirrors are round. In the same Tomb of King of Qi, there was a round bronze mirror as well.

3. Difficult casting tech.

The casting process for this mirror is difficult and hard to imagine for ordinary people. It not only is big and thin, but also has an odd shape, which makes it even harder comparing to common shapes. The craftsmen must have very rich casting experience when no modern technology is available 2000 years ago in Han Dynasty.

4. Exquisite decoration.

The patterns at the back of mirror are 1mm bas-relief. The main pattern is a lively crawling & roaring dragon. The curves are naturally smooth and vivid. All the five rings as well as four borders are decorated, too.

Dragon: the symbol of Chinese

In China, the symbolism meaning of dragon has gone far beyond customary. It influences Chinese architecture, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, literature, etc. and has become an integral part of traditional Chinese culture.

It has also been spread to China geographical neighbors, such as East and Southeast Asian countries. Especially, as the overseas Chinese flow in the global immigration, the concept and aesthetic significance of the dragon is also spread around the world.

[Forbidden Treasure of China Series]
This is the 18th of 64 culture heritages that the government of China forbids to exhibit abroad. The complete list is here. In Chinese.

[Chinese Keywords]
国家一级文物 禁止出境

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