Article ID: CBB817596810

A Revealing Reflection: The Case of the Chinese Emperor's Mirror (2012)


Mirrors have a long history in both Western and Asian cultures. In the East, besides their standard uses, mirrors have been associated with special or 'magical' powers. Several early Chinese texts present accounts of mirrors that were capable of a particular medical capability — seeing the internal organs of the human body. How should we read such accounts? The Chinese work known as the Xijing Zaji ('Miscellaneous Records of the Western Capital'), dating from around C.E. 500, provides one such account. What is particularly interesting is that this and other texts on these strange mirrors include not just 'fantastical' language, but also what appear to be technical descriptions. The explanation may be found in the Chinese art of 'magic mirrors', with their technologically sophisticated design involving dual reflecting surfaces.

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Authors & Contributors
Qu, Anjing
Tang, Quan
Ptak, Roderich
Zhang, Xinli
Zhang, Meifang
Yuan, Min
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Journal of Dialectics of Nature
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
Historia Mathematica
East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Ke xue chu ban she
Hempen Verlag
Harvard University Press
A.K. Peters
East Asia, civilization and culture
Time Periods
Tang dynasty (China, 618-907)
Song Dynasty (China, 960-1279)
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
Song-Yuan dynasties (China, 960-1368)
Middle and Near East
Siberia (Russia)

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