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Holy Mirrors, Ancient and Modern
Image by timtak
Mirrors have been regarded as sacred at least since the Han Dynasty in China. Many of these mirrors and from the subsequent Wei dynasty have been found in Japan. They bore images of gods and sacred animals particularly the Chinese dragon (1,2) . They were very popular, and possibly later manufactured, in Japan. The bronze mirrors are found in great number in ancient (kofun period) burial mounds in Japan.
In the biggest archeological find of 33 mirrors, the mirrors were placed surrounding the coffin such that their reflective surface faced the deceased.
The Han mirrors were "magic" in that while they reflected they were also able to project an image usually of the deities and animals on the back and refered to as "light passing mirrors" (透明鑑） (Needham, 1965, p.xlic; Needham & Wang, 1977, pp. 96-97).This magic property is due to the their method of construction. When polishing the reflective face of the mirror, the patter on the back influences the pressure brought to bear on the reflective surface and change the extent to which it is concave. Muraoka also claims that Differences in the (slight) "inequality of curvature" (Ayrton & Perry, 1878, p 139; see also Thompson, 1897, and Needham & Wang, 1977, p96 for a diagram) of the mirror result in the mirror reflecting light bearing the pattern shown on the reverse. More recent research has elucidated the precise mathematical model describing the optics of these mirrors as a laplacian image (Berry, 2006), a type of spatial filter today used for edge detection and to blend two images together.
It is not known whether the mirrors popular in ancient Japan were also able to project, but later during the Nara period mirrors were found to concel magic Buddhist images, and during the Edo period, concealed Christians (Kurishitan) concealed images of the cross or of the Holy Mary within their bronze "magic" mirrors.
Mirrors in Japan contined to be made of brass, until the arrival of Western glass mirrors, and were "magic" in that they displayed the patter on their reverse when reflecting sunlight or other powerful light source (Thompson, 1897). Ayrton (Ayrton & Perry, 1878; Ayrton & Pollock, 1879) claims that in Japan mirror vendors were unaware of the "light passing" quality, and that there is no mention of this ‘magical’ quality known to Han Chinese in Japanese texts. Even a Japanese mirror maker was unaware of how to make magic mirrors though had inadvertently made one himself by extensive polishing a mirror with a design on its back (Ayrton & Perry, 1878, p135).
Unlike the ancient Korean mirror top right (3), the ancient Han and Japanese mirrors were made to be rotated, displaying images in the four directions of the compas.
The reason for the holes in the central "breast" (or nipple) is unclear but it is found to be pierced with a hole (of varying shape depending upon the manufacturer) from which the mirror was suspended by a rope.
Bearing in mind that the images on the mirrors required that the mirrors be rotated, the central nodule might also have enabled the mirrors to be spun like a top. I am not sure why someone would want to spin a mirror but my son does (see the toy explained later). I would very much like to see what the reflected "magic" image becomes when spun. The creatures on the reverse will be merged in the reflected image but probably not in a laplacian way – just as concentric circles. If anyone has a magic mirror I would like them to try spinning it to see.
Skipping the holy mirrors in shrines, mirror rice cakes, and the mirror held by the Japanese version of Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, King Enma, which holds a record of ones life, and, jumping to the present day…
Mirrors are popular in the transformational items used by Japanese superheros. The early 1970’s Mirror Man transformed using a Shinto amulet infront of any mirror or reflecting surface. Shinkenja, a group of Super Sentai or Power Rangers, that transforms thanks to their ability to write and then spin Chinese characters in the air, also transforms with the aid of an Inro Maru (4) upon which is affixed a inscribed disk. When the disk is attactched to the mirror the super hero inside the mirror is displayed. Transformation (henshin) by means of a mirror is popular too among Japanese femail super heros notably Himitsu no Akko Chan (Secret Akko), who could change into many things that were displayed in her mirror, sailor moon, and OshareMajo (6). The female super heroes mirrors usually make noises rather than contain inscriptions.
The latest greatest Kamen Rider OOO sometimes transforms by means of his Taja-Spina which spins three of his totem-badge "coins" inside a mirror (video).
In this ancient tradition we see recurrence of the following themes
1) Mirrors being of great benefit to the bearer enabling him to transform.
2) Mirrors containing hidden deities
3) Mirrors being associated with symbols: iconic marks, and incantations.
4) Mirrors being made to be rotated or spun.
Thanks to James Ewing for the Mirror Man (Mira-man) reference and to Tomomi Noguchi for the Ojamajo Doremi reference, and to Taku Shimonuri and my son Ray for getting me interested in Japanese superheros.
One of My students (A Ms. Tanaka, and a book about the cute in Japan) pointed out that the Japanese are into round things, and it seems to me that this Japanese preference for the round may originate in the mirror.
Anpanman and Doraemon and many "characters" have round faces
The Japanese Flag features a circle representing the sun and the mirror
Japanese coats of arms (kamon)
Japanese holy mirrors are round
"Mirror rice cakes", and many other kinds of rice cake, are round
The Sumo ring is round
Pictures of the floating world (Ukiyoe) often portray the sitter in a round background
Japanese groups always have to end up by standing in a round
The Japanese are fond of domes and have many of the biggest
The Japanese are fond of seals (inkan), which are round
Japanese groups just can’t help standing in a round
The taiko drum is round
The mitsudomoe is round
Mount Fuji is round
But then there are probably round things in every culture?
Ayrton, W. E., & Perry, J. (1878). The Magic Mirror of Japan. Part I. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 28(190-195), 127–148.
Ayrton, W. E., & Pollock, W. F. (1879). The mirror of Japan and its magic quality. London: Royal Institution of Great Britain.
Needham, J. (1965). Science and Civilisation in China: Physics and physical technology. Mechanical engineering. Cambridge University Press.
Needham, J., & Wang, L. (1977). Science and Civilisation in China: Physics and physical technology. I, Physics. Cambridge University Press.
Berry, M. V. (2006). Oriental magic mirrors and the Laplacian image. European journal of physics, 27, 109. Retrieved from www.phy.bris.ac.uk/people/Berry_mv/the_papers/berry383.pdf
Spatial Filters – Laplacian/Laplacian of Gaussian. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2012, from homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/rbf/HIPR2/log.htm
Thompson, S. P. (1897). Light Visible and Invisible: A Series of Lectures at Royal Institution of Great Britain. Macmillan. Retrieved from www.archive.org/stream/lightvisibleinvi00thomuoft#page/50…
Under They Go!
Image by Jocey K
Hector’s dolphin seen from the Black Cat in Akaroa harbour, day two of my friends visit from London. I took them over the Port hills to Akaroa. We had such a beautiful day and they enjoyed the trip.
The cruise is packed with highlights including the rare, NZ native dolphin – the Hector’s Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. And you’ll see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa’s fascinating past. Cruises depart every day, weather permitting.
The Back Cat is modern catamaran, the 60 foot /20 metre Black Cat (previously the Canterbury Cat), is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour.
For More Info: www.blackcat.co.nz/akaroa-harbour-nature-cruises.html
Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori) is the best-known of the four dolphins in the genus Cephalorhynchus and is found only in New Zealand. At approximately 1.4 m in length, it is one of the smallest cetaceans, and New Zealand’s only endemic cetacean.
Hector’s dolphin is the smallest of the dolphins. Mature adults have a total length of 1.2–1.6 m (3 ft 10 in–5 ft 3 in) and weigh 40–60 kg (88–130 lb). The species is sexually dimorphic, with females being slightly longer and heavier than males. The body shape is stocky, with no discernible beak. The most distinctive feature is the rounded dorsal fin, with a convex trailing edge and undercut rear margin.
The overall appearance is pale grey, but closer inspection reveals a complex and elegant combination of colours. The back and sides are predominantly light grey, while the dorsal fin, flippers, and flukes are black. The eyes are surrounded by a black mask, which extends forward to the tip of the rostrum and back to the base of the flipper. A subtly shaded, crescent-shaped black band crosses the head just behind the blowhole. The throat and belly are creamy white, separated by dark-grey bands meeting between the flippers. A white stripe extends from the belly onto each flank below the dorsal fin.
At birth, Hector’s dolphin calves have a total length of 60–80 cm (24–31 in) and weigh 8–10 kg (18–22 lb). Their coloration is the same as adults, although the grey has a darker hue. Four to six vertical pale stripes, caused by fetal folds affecting the pigmentation, are present on the calf’s body until an age of about six months.
For More Info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hector%27s_dolphin
MG Camille Nichols-Female Army Leaders Panel-Mar. 2014
Image by U.S. Army IMCOM
Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston (Mar. 20, 2014) — Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Installation Management Command participated in a panel discussion on women’s roles in the U.S. Army. Nichols spoke about her Army career path, personal experiences and offered insight into changing attitude and culture regarding women’s expanding opportunities in the Army.
"It was a different Army in 1981, I wanted a job where I could get dirty," Nichols told her listeners. "I was one of two female officers when I arrived at Fort Knox as an engineer. They didn’t quite know what to do with me." Nichols said that while many doors closed in her face, unlooked-for opportunities shaped her career path.
"You never know what opportunities are out there – the Army needs agile, innovative, creative people," she said.
When asked about how to handle gender biased professional criticism, Nichols replied that focusing on her actions helped her as a female Army leader.
"It’s going to happen (referring to a less than perfect rating). Don’t chase a rating. If you do, you are in this for the wrong reason. Stay focused on improvement. Seek out the toughest job and do it well. That’s how you show your true value."
The panel of five female Army leaders ranging in rank from sergeant major to major general spoke to approximately 30 members of the Rocks, Inc., San Antonio chapter, an officer corps mentoring and professional development organization.
(U.S. Army photos by Amanda Kraus Rodriguez)