A bronze circular mirror with two animals and inscription. Sui-Early Tang dynasty, 6th-7th century. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012 

The thick mirror finely cast in high relief with five lively animals racing around the knob within a sawtooth border below the circular ridge that separates the main field from an inscription set below a sawtooth band in the deep sides of the outer rim cast on top with a narrow band of foliate scroll below the upright edge, with silvery grey patina; 4¾ in. (12.1 cm.) diam., 5/8 in. (1.5 cm.) thick, box  675.6g. Estimate $20,000 - $30,000

隋/初唐 賞得秦王銘神獸紋銅鏡

Provenance: Robert H. Ellsworth Collection, New York, acquired in Hong Kong, 1988. 

Notes: Compare the mirror of this type with four rather than five animals, which also appears to be quite thick, that was excavated in 1988 at Nanliwang village, Changan, Shaanxi province, illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji - 16 - Mirrors, Beijing, 1998, p. 106, no. 104. Another mirror of this type, also with four animals, is illustrated by T. Nakano et al., Bronze Mirrors from Ancient China: Donald H. Graham Jr. Collection, 1994, pp. 204-5, no. 73. See, also, the similar mirror of slightly larger size (12.7 cm.) with five animals from the Mengdiexuan Collection sold at China Guardian, 12 May 2011, lot 798.

Christie's. Luminous Perfection: Fine Chinese Mirrors from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection, 22 March 2012, New York, Rockefeller Plaza