Fragments of embroidered silk cloth on display demonstrate how closely textile and mirror designs were related. Finely patterned background designs in bronze appear to echo the weave of textiles, a subtlety that can be discerned because the display cases allow visitors an intimate view of these exquisite little works of art.
“The cases were custom made for the exhibition,” Bailey said, “and they’re built so that you can get close to them. We also have interior lighting in the cases as well as exterior lighting to give visitors a chance to see the sculptural quality in the designs.”
And careful scrutiny is rewarded as tiny details emerge. Look carefully at the “Moon Mirror with Birds and Dragon” from the Tang Dynasty and within the mirror’s circle shape you’ll see a little moon inhabited by a rabbit stirring a pot under a leafy cinnamon tree. The pot contains “perhaps the elixir of life,” says the display label, and the rabbit “is an endearing allusion to popular legends of immortality.”