Features | Spotlight
30th June 2018
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Throughout medieval Japan, mirrors were considered sacred objects used in rituals to ward off evil spirits and, when placed in Shinto shrines, to speak with the gods.
Tales of the notorious Narcissus and the young lady in the Himalayas who sat bewitched at their own reflection in the brook waters are proof that the mirror is not a modern invention. Historians have labored hard to discover some really captivating facts about the origin and the first use of mirrors.
Mirrors are not used just to admire one’s personality; they reflect light and sound as well. Acoustic mirrors reflect sound and are used by musicians. Italians used the word “mirari”, which means to admire, while the Romans called it “speculum”, which means to behold.
Black volcanic glass known as obsidian was used in Turkey around 6000 BCE and could be the first precursor of the modern mirror. Egyptians and Chinese civilizations have been using mirrors from as early as 2900 BCE to 2000 BCE. A polished piece of bronze metal was flattened into a round disc shape with handles of wood, ivory, and metal. The mirrors were thought to be infused with magical powers and Egyptians sun-god Reis believed to have been a resident of the mirror.
Greek seems to have been enthusiastic about full-sized mirrors to reflect a person’s
Throughout medieval Japan, mirrors were considered sacred objects used in rituals to ward off evil spirits and, when placed in Shinto shrines, to speak with the gods. The trend of the modern mirror started with glass tiles cut from blown glass forms; initially, they turned out to be slightly curved and colored. As guildsmen considered tin, silver and mercury amalgams, rock crystal was also added. These exorbitant and exquisite objects were as valuable as any rare gemstones; even the ruler of Mantua, Francis I had them installed in the castle of San Georgia.
The mirror was seen as one of the first signs of self-awareness and civilization. Artists found a new muse to not only bring out utility and beauty to living spaces but a medium to express thought and feeling. Leonardo da Vinci’s When you wish to see whether your whole picture accords with what you have portrayed from nature, take a mirror and reflect the actual object in it. Compare what is reflected in your painting.