‘Magic’ mirror with hidden image found at Cincinnati Museum

(ORDO NEWS) — In the Cincinnati Museum of Art’s collection of East Asian art, a seemingly unremarkable bronze mirror from 15th and 16th century China.

It turns out that this extremely rare magical mirror depicting a Buddha shrouded in mystical rays is part of a vast collection of hundreds of thousands of other artifacts, according to CNN.

In the image, the Buddha is seated in his typical meditative posture, while beams of light emanate from him.

There are also six characters on the back of the mirror, which are a reference to Amitabha Buddha, an important figure in East Asian Buddhism.

The last time the magic mirror was exhibited was in 2017, and before that it had been stored on a shelf in the back room for decades.

Magic Mirror is an ancient Chinese art form dating back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). These are transparent or light-penetrating mirrors.

According to the museum staff, “…when light is projected onto them, the mirrors appear transparent and reveal symbols or decorative designs.”

The curator of the Museum of East Asian Art, Dr. Hou-mei Sun, discovered this amazing historical artifact. She saw an odd resemblance to Japanese Edo-period mirrors, although they were smaller than those held in museums in Tokyo, Shanghai, and New York, and had a more complex style of Chinese writing.

Magic mirror with hidden image found at Cincinnati Museum 2
Hou-mei Sun, curator of East Asian art at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, next to a Buddhist bronze mirror

This prompted her to visit the museum’s vault last spring and discover the mirror, which has been part of the museum’s collection for over 50 years.

A conservation expert accompanied her for due diligence. “I asked her to shine a strong, focused light on the mirror,” Dr. Sun told CNN.

“She used her cell phone (flashlight) and it worked.”
Later, the mirror was taken for experiments using powerful and focused light, which showed the image of the Buddha.


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