Mirror with mythical birds and animals


Historical period(s)
Eastern Han dynasty, 25-220
Diam x D: 14.3 x 1 cm (5 5/8 x 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Mirror


casting, China, Eastern Han dynasty (25 - 220), mythological animal, WWII-era provenance

Mrs. Christian R. Holmes (1871-1941), New York and "The Chimneys," Sands Point, Port Washington, Long Island [1]

From at least 1944
Tonying and Company, New York, from at least February 1944 [2]

From 1944
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company on February 7, 1944 [3]


[1] According to information provided by Tonying & Company, see Tonying and Company’s invoice, dated February 7, 1944, in which the mirror figures under no. B. 30: “Cricular Bronze Mirror, Bird and animal design, gray and turquoise-green patina / Han,” copy in object file.

[2] The acquisition of the mirror by the Freer Gallery was approved by C. G. Abbot, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, on February 4, 1944, see “List of Objects Contemplated for Purchase by the Freer Gallery of Art,” copy in object file.

[3] See invoice cited in note 1. See also A. G. Wenley’s letter to C. F. Yau, Tonying & Company, dated February 5, 1944, in which Wenley confirms the purchase of the mirror along with seven other mirrors from the Holmes collection (see records for F1944.4-F1944.10).

Previous Owner(s)

Tonying and Company
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes 1871 - 1941

Published References
  • Anneliese Bulling. The Decoration of Mirrors of the Han Period: A Chronology. no. 20 Ascona, Switzerland. pl. 40.
  • Dagny Carter. Four Thousand Years of China's Art. New York. p. 68, c.
  • Florance Waterbury. Bird-Deities in China. Supplementum 10 Ascona, Switzerland. pp. 126-127, pl. 45.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum