山水双鳥羽黒鏡 Haguro Mirror (Haguro kyō) with Birds and Flowers by a Stream
Heian period (794–1185)
Diam. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm); D. 1/4 in. (.6 cm)
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Not on view
Related to the Shintō notion of the mirror as an object of almost magical potency was the custom of dedicating personal mirrors to Shintō shrines. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries hope for salvation in Buddhist Pure Land paradises merged with the Shintō notion of certain places as the abode of sacred spirits. Sutras and both Shintō and Buddhist images were buried at such sites believed to be Pure Lands. Associated with this practice was that of throwing mirrors into ponds. Hundreds of examples with bird and flower motifs, such as the lovely ferns and wildflowers seen here, have been recovered from a pond within the precincts of Dewa Shrine atop Mount Haguro in Yamagata Prefecture and are known as Haguro kyō. Their delicate motifs are typical of the art of the Heian aristocracy.