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Mirror with "TLV" Pattern

A work made of bronze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of bronze.


Eastern Han dynasty (A.D. 25–220), c. 1st century A.D.



About this artwork

The design of this mirror reflects principles of ancient Chinese cosmology that envisioned a circular universe enclosing a square earth. Within the border of the square are characters denoting the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The marks resembling T, L, and V correspond to patterns on an instrument used by Han dynasty diviners to foretell the future. This mirror was designed to place its owner at the center of the cosmos, a favorable position symbolically protected by the Animals of the Four Directions—the Green Dragon of the East, the Red Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Warrior (tortoise and snake) of the North.


On View, Gallery 133


Arts of Asia


Mirror with "TLV" Pattern


China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

25 CE–220 CE




Diam.: 21 cm (8 1/4 in.); Thickness: D.: 0.5 cm (3/16 in.)

Credit Line

Samuel M. Nickerson Endowment

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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