This exquisite mirror was perhaps created to
celebrate a marriage or some other auspicious
occasion. Its iconography depicts animals and
plants traditionally symbolic of luck. The three
trees--plum, pine, and bamboo--are thought to
bring happiness, while the two cranes and the
turtle guarantee a long and healthy life. The
serene beauty of nature has been skillfully bent
to the service of art. Surely the woman who
gazed into this mirror long ago must have felt
happy and fortunate indeed.
Report on Japanese Bronze Mirror
Decoration As you indicate the designs on this
mirror contain many auspicious references.
One is Longevity, a wish for long life, which is
the general setting (the Islands of the Blest -
where the Immortals live),
plus the Three Friends (pine tree, crane and
bamboo) each of which live long lives and
together form a reinforced blessing
plus the tortoise, another long lived creature
plus the pine tree by itself, with the name of
Takasago signifying long life
Takasago also signifies marital bliss
which itself is also represented by the pair of
You couldn;t get a more felicitous wedding
present to a bride.
Inscription The inscription reads in full Tenka-
ichi Shimizu Kawachi kami Muneaki i.e., 'First
under Heaven, Governor of Kawachi (Province),
(made by) Muneaki' '.
Because of the short form of the inscription,
the meaning is not yet fully explained, but:-
First under heaven' was a description used by
artisans, meaning 'Best on earth'.
The former Kawachi Province is now part of
Muneali was the personal name of the maker. His
family name was probaly Fujiwara, the main
mirror-makers of the time.
Other mirrors by Muneki have not been
recorded but, considering the size, the nature of
the inscription and the design, I would attribute
this to late Edo, c 1840 (ie 1820-1860)
The above report was issued by