An apparently ordinary bronze mirror from China was stored in the museum vault for years. However, it has turned out that the strange artifact had a secret hidden in plain sight. On pointing a flashlight at the mirror a museum worker saw a reflection of a hidden image on the wall.
Dating back to the 15th century, the artifact remained in the vaults of the Cincinnati Museum of Art for more than 50 years. It had not been on display for a long time, and a museum employee was looking at the object simply out of curiosity during one of his nightly rounds.
At one point, the employee pointed a flashlight at the mirror to make out the ornaments. The beam reflected off the polished bronze and a figure appeared on the wall, that no one had seen before.
The hidden reflection showed an image of Amitabha Buddha, an important figure in a number of East Asian Buddhist traditions. Museum workers contacted experts, who explained that the artifact was a rare "magic mirror."
"Artisans first made a casting with an image on one side of the bronze plate. Then they engraved a similar image on the front surface and polished it until it became as shiny as a regular mirror. They covered it with amalgam and as a result, the hidden picture revealed itself only when the sunlight fell on the surface at a certain angle," the museum worker explains.
Such artifacts are extremely rare. Similar mirrors are kept only in large museums in Tokyo, New York, and Shanghai.
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