Asian Art

Mirror Depicting the Hero Ci Fei

12th–13th century

Bronze

6 5/8 in. (16.83 cm)
Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Gift of Mrs. William H. Moore
1952.52.26
The figure with an upheld sword at the prow of the boat represents Ci Fei, a Han-dynasty hero who leaped from the deck of a ship to fight a dragon and save his fellow passengers. Depictions of this tale—based on the Huainanzi, a collection of essays from the second century B.C.E.—appear in paintings from as early as the Tang dynasty, and the theme recurred in the visual arts until the twelfth century, particularly in northern China. The large, four-character inscription at the top of the mirror reads, “Great and resplendent is the heaven,” a possible allusion to the grace that was inherent in Ci Fei’s sacrifice.
Culture: 
Chinese
Period: 
Northern Song (960–1127) or Jin dynasty (1115–1234
Classification: 
Tools and Equipment
Geography: 
China
Status: 
On view*
Provenance: 

Ton-ying, New York, 1926

Bibliography: 

George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970), 122–123, no. 239, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.