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

Finely cast in high relief with five lively dogs racing around the knob within a ridge that separates them from an inscription encircled by narrow hatchured and diaper bands set below the raised outer edge, with malachite encrustation; 4 11/16 in. (11.9 cm.) diam., 3/8 in. (1 cm.) thick, box; 423.9g. Estimate $15,000 - $18,000

隋/初唐 賞得秦王銘神獸紋銅鏡

Provenance; Robert H. Ellsworth Collection, New York, acquired from Alice Boney, Japan, 1960s. 

Notes: Compare the very similar mirror of comparable size with the same inscription illustrated by T. Nakano et al., Bronze Mirrors from Ancient China: Donald H. Graham Jr. Collection, 1994, pp. 202-3, no. 72, where the authors translate the inscription, noting that it "refers to the spiritual quality a good mirror should possess, as well as to the thoughts and feelings of others which could be conveyed by such a mirror." See, also, the mirror of slightly larger size (14.9 cm.) with similar petal and stamen borders encircling the knob as well as the same diaper border at the rim illustrated by J. Rawson and E. Bunker, Ancient Chinese and Ordos Bronzes, Oriental Ceramic Society, Hong Kong, 1990, pp. 258-9, no. 177.

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