Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Haguro Mirror (Haguro kyō) with Birds and Flowers by a Stream

Heian period (794–1185)
12th century
Diam. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm); D. 1/4 in. (.6 cm)
Credit Line:
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
Accession Number:
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.
Related Objects

Standing Shiva

Date: ca. 13th century Medium: Bronze Accession: 1979.508 On view in:Gallery 240

Six of the Twelve Divine Generals (Jūni shinshō)

Date: 14th century Medium: Wood with lacquer, color, gold, and inlaid crystal eyes Accession: 2015.300.254a–f On view in:Gallery 224

Zaō Gongen

Date: 11th century Medium: Gilt bronze with incised decoration Accession: 1975.268.155 On view in:Not on view

Mirror Handle

Date: ca. late 11th–12th century Medium: Bronze Accession: 1987.142.29 On view in:Gallery 247

Mirror decorated with dragons

Date: 11th–12th century Medium: Bronze Accession: 11.48.1 On view in:Gallery 233