Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnofrafii   1 (52)  2021



Yuan time metal mirror from the collection of the Altai State Museum of Local Lore

Seregin N.N., Narudtseva E.A. (Barnaul, Russian Federation), Chistyakova A.N. (Novosibirsk, Russian Federation),

Radovsky S.S (Barnaul, Russian Federation)


             page 4249


This article is concerned with the Chinese metal mirror, which, as it has been found during the study, has been stored for a long time in the collection of the Altai State Museum of Local Lore, but as yet has not attracted the attention of specialists and has not been introduced into scientific discourse. A special research has been required to determine the time and circumstances of its arrival to the museum, which involved working with the documentation of the Altai State Museum of Local Lore, stored both within the institute and in the State Archives of the Altai Territory. It has been concluded, that the mirror represents an occasional find and it came to the museum in the first quarter of the 20th century from the Yenisei Province (currently, the southwestern part of Krasnoyarsk District. The article presents a detailed morphological characteristic of this artifact. The basis of the composition in the ornamented part of the mirror is a stylized image of a single dragon. Its mouth is trying to grasp the holder, which symbolizes the fire pearl. The analysis of the specialised literature and catalogues showed that in Chinese mirrors such composition appeared only during the Tang Dynasty (618907) and continued to exist during the Song Period (9071279). It has been determined that the composition presented on such objects was reproduced for several centuries (Jin, Liao, and Yuan Dynasties), undergoing transformations associated with stylistic nuances (details of the image, shape of mirror, presence or absence of inscriptions) and size and quality of the objects. Based on the obtained data, the mirror from the Altai State Museum of Local Lore has been attributed to the Yuan dynasty period. There are almost no analogies to such objects in Northern and Central Asia, despite the significant number of mirrors of the Mongolian time stored in collections of Siberian museums. Therefore, it seems possible to acknowledge the rarity of these very specimens; the fragmentarity of their distribution could possibly be explained by peculiarities of the history of specific craft centers that have yet to be investigated.

Key words: metal mirror, China, museum, accidental find, dragon, interpretation, Yuan Dynasty.


Funding. This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 20-18-00179 Migrations and processes of ethnocultural interaction as factors in the formation of multi-ethnic societies in the territory of the Big Altai in antiquity and the Middle Ages: an interdisciplinary analysis of archaeological and anthropological materials).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 07.12.2020

Article is published: 26.02.2021


Seregin N.N. 

Altai State University, Lenin av., 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Seregin N.N.)


Narudtseva E.A.

Altai State Museum of Local Lore, Polzunova st., 46, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Narudtseva E.A.)


Chistyakova A.N.

Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University, Vilyuiskaya st., 28, Novosibirsk, 630126, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Chistyakova A.N.)


 Radovsky S.S

Altai State University, Lenin av., 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Radovsky S.S.)