A bronze octafoil mirror, Song dynasty (960-1279)


Lot 818. A bronze octafoil mirror, Song dynasty (960-1279); 6 in. (15.2 cm.) diam., composite standEstimate USD 4,000 – USD 6,000Price realised USD 11,340. © Christie's 2023

The mirror is cast with a central knob and a scene of Bodhidharma standing on a reed while navigating wind-blown waves and holding his hat, opposite a temple which emerges from a water spout that rises from a dragon’s mouth, all enclosed by the barbed and lobed edge. The reverse is plain and the silvery-grey surface has areas of malachite and azurite patination.

ProvenanceJ. J. Lally & Co., New York, no. 2508.

NoteBodhidharma is a Buddhist figure whose teachings eventually became the foundation of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. He is often depicted standing on a reed leaf, representing the episode where he crossed the Yangtze river to evade pursuers.

A very similar lobed bronze mirror decorated with the same scene is in the Shanghai Museum and illustrated in Ancient Bronze Mirrors from the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 2005, p. 347, no. 134, with a rubbing on p. 346.

Christie's. J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 23.03.2023