Mirrors: Metal mirrors from India

Publication Type:

Book Chapters


Encyclopedia of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, 2nd ed., Springer Verlag, Volume 2, New York, p.1699 –1704 (2008)




Metal mirrors have a long antiquity in various parts of the old world and Asia. Mirrors have had considerable magico-religious and aesthetic significance in parts of Asia, for example in China and India. The English word 'speculation' comes from the Roman words meaning magic for telling the future by looking in a mirror (speculum), and mirror divination is still taught in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The motif of the celestial maiden, deity or dancer admiring herself in a mirror is an enduring one in Indian sculpture, as exemplified by a Kushan sculpture of a Yakshi or tree nymph from Sanghol (first and second century CE).