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Japanese art

Japanese art

bronze mirror with handle Fujiwara Masashige – bronze mirror with handle Fujiwara Masashige

BRONZE MIRROR WITH HANDLE Fujiwara Masashige by Samuel Veiga Silva.
I chose this piece because of my love for Japanese culture, the metal work, for visiting the British Museum, where this piece is exposed and why it is a good representation of Chinese influence in Japan.
Japanese mirror bronze eighteenth century, with carved natural motifs, inscriptions identifying the author and a coated wicker handle.

aapj - espelho de bronze com pegaBronze in Japan

The first bronze working indications in Japan are Yayoi of time, i.e., about 300 BCE. In the previous season, as the Yayoi, there are many pieces in clay, but in the fourth century BCE the introduction of bronze causes a significant change in Japanese society and its art. The bronze was introduced via China-Korea-Japan, like many other techniques and philosophies. As in China the bronze was a distinguishing factor between social strata, and have bronze articles was indicative of a high status. This is more relevant in Japan due to its scarcity in metals. Thus we see that in terms of the use of the most used by lower layers metals was iron, as could be produced in a furnace by anyone, whereas due to the need for skilled labor in production, bronze was more expensive and immediately accessible only for the wealthy. Therefore, in the Yayoi period, we see a mirror appearance, ceremonial blade, and bells used in rituals, made of bronze.

The importance of the Mirror in Japan

The Shinto mythology tells us that, after being embarrassed by his brother Susano, the solar deity Amaterasu took refuge in a cave, plunging the world into darkness. The other deities hang a mirror and a necklace of jewels in a tree and held a party in an attempt to lure Amaterasu out of the cave. To peek to see what step,
Amaterasu is attracted to the mirror and jewelry. The other deities catch it and close the cave. So Amaterasu back to give light to the world. Her brother, Susano, is punished and during your travels kills a giant monster and recover your body a sword, which later offers Amaterasu as evidence of your repentance.
Later, Amaterasu refers to its decent Jimmu the task of pacifying Japan, handing her the mirror, the jewelry and the sword as a sign of his approval as Emperor of Japan. So today the Sword, the Mirror and Jewelry are Imperial Treasury and Japanese symbols. Hence the great importance of the mirror in Japanese culture.
In the early Yayoi period (300 BCE-300 CE) the mirror was seen as a symbol of authority, and it was soon learned that the Japanese wax-lost method for its manufacture. At this time the mirrors were round and with Chinese and Japanese decorations. In the following period, the Nara period (710-794), the mirrors were ever made for everyday use, being predominant animals and Japanese plants in your decor. In these times the shape and decorative themes were-changing, going round without handles mirrors, the mirrors with handle, as the mirror made by Fujiwara Masashige.
The decorative themes in vogue Kamakura (1185-1333) was the Hōraizan, ie, the “Island of Immortality” Chinese. In the Edo period the Chinese subjects were still high, being represented fauna and flora as sort of symbolism, which were offered to women in their marriage.
bronze mirrors were replaced by glass mirrors in the Meiji Restoration (1868).

Decorative elements in the mirror

In this mirror of Edo era are present natural elements, flora and fauna, with intrinsic symbolism. These representations and their meaning, are imported from China and applied to Japan, usually as the Chinese meaning. As already mentioned, this symbol wanted to bring luck to the gifted. But let’s look at them one by one.
First Peacock (image 1). Being a very beautiful bird, first means that even beauty. But it also has other meanings. In Classic of Changes, the peacock is referred to as worship and having nine virtues: good-looking, clear voice, graceful gait, punctuality, controlled appetite, satisfaction, loyalty to his group, morality and ability to learn from their mistakes . It was also a symbol of dignity, so that the high dignitaries, especially during the Qing Dynasty, wearing a peacock feather in their hats. It was also believed the peacock the power to repel evil, because in reality, the peacocks when threatened by snakes have no problem attacking them.

The Blackthorn blossom (picture 2). Since it is seen as the first flower to bloom before spring (around January / February) is a symbol of perseverance and how announces spring is also a symbol of female purity. Having your flower petals 5 is sort of symbol associated with the Five Blessings: old age, wealth, health, love of virtue and natural death. Since it is a homophone with eyebrow (MEI) and who has very long is a sign of longevity, it is also seen as a symbol of longevity. The Blackthorn is often associated with pine and bamboo, forming the Three Friends of Winter, again, a symbol of perseverance.

Lilies (image 3). In Chinese the name of lilies, baihe is homophone of “hundred” (bai) and “union” (h), which is a long marriage. They are also known to “bring children.” For these reasons are offered to brides when your wedding. It is also believed that eating them will bring longevity.

Water (pictures 4 and 5). Water is a recurring element in Asian art, especially the landscapes. Because water is one of the 5 elements, symbolizes the yin or feminine principle. The water is soft, flexible and docile as a woman should be, in the eyes of Chinese culture. It reminds us of the principle of Laozi in Daodejing of the weak overcome the strong and subrepor is soft to hard, in this case the woman by her soft qualities, overwrites the hard and rigid man.

We can conclude that excluding this mirror has been produced for common sale, it may have been made with someone in mind. I say “may” because only the craftsman could tell us what, or who, had in mind that made this work, which can not happen. With the analysis made we can surmise that this mirror was made for a newly married woman, or who would marry, aim to wish luck, a long and happy marriage.

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