Votive Mirror with Eleven-Headed Kannon, Gilt bronze, Japan

Votive Mirror with Eleven-Headed Kannon

Heian period (794–1185)
12th century
Gilt bronze
Diam. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 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
Images of deities carved in bronze mirrors (kyōzō) had spiritual and ritual significance in the late Heian period. The incised representation of the Eleven-headed Kannon (Ekādashamukha) merges visual and symbolic attributes of both Shinto and Buddhist religions. Kannon sits on a lotus flower, holding a hanging rosary with his right hand and forming a gesture that signifies the discussion and transmission of Buddha’s teachings with his left hand. He wears a headdress composed of eleven small-scale heads, which symbolize Kannon’s ability to see and care for the suffering of all sentient beings. The two bronze loops on the upper portion of the disc suggest that the mirror was suspended.
[ Harry G. C. Packard , Tokyo, until 1975; donated and sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," August 19, 2000–February 5, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds, Flowers, and Buddhist Paradise Imagery in Japanese Art," February 14, 2004–June 13, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," July 2, 2005–November 29, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Animals, Birds, Insects, and Marine Life in Japanese Art," June 26, 2008–November 30, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Five Thousand Years of Japanese Art: Treasures from the Packard Collection," December 17, 2009–June 10, 2010.