Eight-lobed bracket-rim bronze mirror, with a scene of dragons attacking a sailing boat. The first dragon emerges from the waves at the left, while one of the human figures on the boat holds up a sword, preparing to fight. A second dragon can be seen half-submerged above and to the right. These details identify the scene as the story of Ci Fei 佽非 the dragon-slayer, which appears in Chinese literature as early as the 3rd century BCE. According to the story, Ci Fei had acquired a sword of which he was particularly fond. As he crossed the Changjiang River on his way home from the wars, the ferryboat was attacked by a dragon. Fearing more for the loss of his precious sword than for his life, Ci Fei slew the dragon.
At the top of the scene, four Chinese characters in a pseudo-archaic script read: huang pi chang tian 煌丕昌天 "Glorious, great, bright heaven." The phrase is obscure, and doesn't obviously relate to either the story of Ci Fei, or to any other identifiable source.
Mirrors of identical design have been excavated from tombs of Song Dynasty date in several regions of China. Many examples have also been found in Korea.
Remains of textile impressions can be seen in the corrosion on the mirrored surface.
Gift of Elise Biddle (Mrs. Harold) Paumgarten
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