round, flat object with scalloped, pointed edges; raised knob at center; rough ship just R of center knob; stylized waves at L; four Korean characters at top center; green with patina

Mirror showing a ship at sea and inscription, 12th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Buddhism flourished in Korea during the Goryeo dynasty, and Buddhist themes and symbols came to embellish many artifacts. The overall shape of this mirror is based on a lotus blossom, a Buddhist symbol of purity. The scene probably depicts a spirit boat carrying the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Dragons cavort in a cosmic sea and one of them blows the boat along its way. The inscription provides a clue that the image is about transition from life to afterlife: “Clear, vast, luminous heaven.”

Details
Title
Mirror showing a ship at sea and inscription
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.518
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 943
Curator Approved

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round, flat object with scalloped, pointed edges; raised knob at center; rough ship just R of center knob; stylized waves at L; four Korean characters at top center; green with patina