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Mirror in storage at Ohio museum reveals secret 50 years later

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Posted at 11:49 AM, Jul 14, 2022

CINCINNATI — A mirror that's been sitting in storage at an Ohio museum for more than 50 years is finally revealing her secret.

The Cincinnati Arts Museum said in a news release that last spring, its Curator of East Asian Art, Dr. Hou-mei Sung, was researching a mirror that's been with the museum since 1961 when she made quite the discovery.

The museum said that the mirror, which was made during the 16th century, showed off an image of a Buddha surrounded by rays of light when it's under certain lighting conditions.

According to the museum, these mirrors are known as "magic mirrors" and were first created in China during the Han dynasty.

"Magic mirrors" are very rare and, in a particular light, can reveal images on their reflective surfaces, the museum said.

“This is a national treasure for China, and we are so lucky to have rediscovered this rare object and have on view in Cincinnati,” said Sung in the press release.

The museum said that the front of the mirror has a polished reflective surface, but on the back, its marked who is revealed in the light: Amitābha Buddha.

The museum said there are only a few known "magic mirrors" in existence.

They are located at the Shanghai Museum, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum said.

The museum said the “magic” mirror would be displayed starting July 23.