Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Browse: 3 objects

Reference URL


Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

Ritual mirror with 'TLV' decoration

  • loan


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


Publications online

  • The Barlow Collection by the University of Sussex

    The Barlow Collection

    As the Daoist ideology became influential during the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), the decoration of mirrors increasingly came to reflect concepts of the universe. The bar-shaped motifs resembling the letters ‘T’, ‘L’ and ‘V’, which are similarly found on boards for liubo, a contemporary board game, are of cosmological significance. The animals on the present piece are a variant on the Animals of the Four Directions: the Green Dragon of the East, the White Tiger of the West, the Red Bird of the South, and the ‘Black Warrior’ (a turtle with a snake) of the North.

    The circular mirror has a central rounded boss on the back, pierced for inserting a ribbon, and a raised rim border. A square field in the centre encloses a circular band with nine raised nipples and thread-relief scroll motifs. The circular area around it is bordered by a rope-like band of diagonal lines, and contains eight nipples on lobed circular fields, bar-shaped elements in the form of the letters ‘T’, ‘L’ and ‘V’, and four addorsed pairs of creatures in thread-relief. These consist of a pair of birds, one with a phoenix, the other a human head; a pair of striped tigers, one with strong whiskers, perhaps to distinguish male from female; a tortoise and snake together with a feline animal; and a dragon-like creature with another feline. The rim shows a chevron border and a scroll band composed of stylized dragon motifs in flat silhouette relief. The reflecting side of the mirror is densely covered with green patina.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum