Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mirror, Mirror

on the know how heavy this one is...we sure hope it doesn't fall...(my apologies to the Queen)...but that mirror on the wall is a very heavy piece...
and I thought I was going to hang it on a couple of simple hooks...ha! I could not even lift the mirror straight up...but it did bring me to this week's history...who invented the mirror?

The earliest manufactured mirrors were pieces of polished stone such as obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass. Examples of obsidian mirrors found in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) have been dated to around 6000 BC. If you have had a rough night, you would not know if you used this as a mirror!

Polished stone mirrors from central and south America date from around 2000 BC onwards. Mirrors of polished copper were crafted in Mesopotamia from 4000 BC and in ancient Egypt from around 3000 BC. In China, bronze mirrors were manufactured from around 2000 BC. Mirrors made of other metal mixtures (alloys) such as copper and tin speculum metal may have also been produced in China and India. Mirrors of speculum metal (a mixture of around two-thirds copper and one-third tin making a white brittle alloy that can be polished to make a highly reflective surface)or any precious metal were hard to produce and were only owned by the wealthy.

The ancients loved these hand mirrors, but Socrates warned young men if they looked in the mirror and thought they were handsome, they should focus their lives on keeping their souls clean and stay away from the temptations of life that could take them on the wrong path. If a young man would find that he is not handsome, he should compensate for his look from his heart and get known for doing good things. (There is a fun party game for you!)

By the third century AD, artisans had developed thin flat glass that could be spread with hot metal without breaking. So, when you look into a hand mirror, you really are looking into the past since this was the only mirror they had access to.
In the Medieval period, glass mirrors completely disappeared because during those times religious confessions stated that devil is looking and watching the world from the opposite side of a glass mirrors. Poor fashionable ladies had to use a polished metal mirrors or special water bowls instead of glass mirrors.

The first mirror manufacturing plant opened in Nuremberg (Germany) in 1373 . Mirrors were then aggressively integrated in all aspects of life. No respectful lady left her house without a small mirror. Handheld mirrors and pears mirrors became a must have item for every woman. Ladies wore gold embellished mirrors on a chain around their neck or waist, and mirrors were treated just like precious jewelry, and were encased in specially crafted exotic materials like turtle shell or elephant bone frames. Some of the mirrors' frames were made from gold or silver with elegant miniature engravings.

On the end of 16th century, following the high fusion style, French queen Maria De Medici decided to create for herself a mirrored office. 119 mirrors were purchased from Venice. Maybe because her purchase was so large, or maybe a BOGO, Venetian masters created a special gift for the queen of France - a unique large mirror generously encrusted with precious stones. If you get to the Louvre in Paris, you can see it. 17th century Russia mirrored medieval Europe, and the Orthodox Church prohibited the possession of mirrors by its priests. From this time on, superstitions surrounded mirrors. Breaking a mirror, for example, was sign of bad lack for seven years. Some people feared that if the glass in a mirror were to break, their soul would be lost. The bad luck was thought to last for 7 years because people believed that the body, mind and soul changed completely every seven years. At the end of the 7 year cycle they came together again for a new beginning. So seven years after breaking the mirror, your soul would be returned to you and a new cycle could begin again.

I love the celluloid mirrors from the early 1900s, and I am attracted to the ones with initials. You can imagine the woman who had this set...probably wealthy since it was engraved...truly through the looking glass for those who create. They make a neat decoration in a vase of paper flowers also...
So, whether it is a hand mirror, a wall mirror, or a mirrored tray...if it is vintage or antique, imagine the faces that it has seen, and aren't we all the fairest of them all?!


Lilli Blue said...

What a pleasure to read your blog. This week even better since I have been looking for the perfect mirror to go over my mantle in the living room.
I want a light one because I live in earth quake country.
Thanks for great history lesson!

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

Hi Susan,

Hope you are well! Lovely assortment of mirrors. I saw some rather pretty ones today at our Flea. Thanks as always for the lesson. Have a wonderful week!


ann said...

what fun susan!!! thanks for the tour....

Relics said...

Love the mirror in the plant-- very clever indeed