Magic Mirror A Rediscovered Treasure at CAM

In the spring of 2021, while doing research on a bronze Buddhist mirror for display, Hou-mei Sung, Curator of East Asian Art, made an exciting discovery. She found that this plain looking bronze mirror is a "magic mirror." The so called "magic mirror," first created in China during the Han dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), was known in China as the "light penetrating mirror" because when placed against sunlight, the mirror projects the decorative design on the back of the mirror and seems to become transparent. Magic mirrors are extremely difficult to make and are still very rare.

In this program, Dr. Sung will talk about how she discovered the magic nature of this mirror and introduce the history of this ancient Chinese art. Kelly Rectenwald, the object conservator, will talk about how she was able to reveal the hidden image using different types of lighting as well as possibilities for how the image could have been applied to the metal to render it invisible.

You may view a recording of her presentation here.

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