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  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday Closed
  • Wednesday 11am - 4pm
  • Thursday 11am - 4pm
  • Friday 11am - 4pm
  • Saturday 11am - 4pm
  • Sunday 11am - 4pm
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  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday Closed
  • Wednesday 10am - 4pm
  • Thursday 10am - 4pm
  • Friday 10am - 4pm
  • Saturday 10am - 4pm
  • Sunday 10am - 4pm
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Object in Focus: No. 15

Mirrors with Turtle & Crane design

Bronze, Japanese
Berwick Museum and Art Gallery

Before the Venetians found a way of producing mirrors made from glass in the 15th century, mirrors were exclusive and high-status objects, and were made from polished stone or metal.

The mirror’s reflective surface took on religious, magical and artistic functions as well as its more obvious purpose.

Mirrors are associated with the Sun Goddess Amaterasu in Japan. Her main temple is at the Grand Shrine of Ise, the foremost Shinto shrine in Japan. She is manifested there in a mirror that is one of the three Imperial Treasures of Japan (the other two being a jewelled necklace and a sword).

Berwick Museum’s mirror is decorated with a picture of two cranes and a turtle with a tree. The crane is said to live for 1,000 years, and so is symbolic of good fortune, longevity and marital fidelity in Japan. At weddings it is customary for family and friends to fold 1,000 gold origami cranes and hang them together for good luck, fortune and long life to the bride and groom.

The turtle is said to live for 10,000 years, and is one of the four celestial guardians (dragon, phoenix, tiger and turtle) of Chinese mythology. The turtle has great significance in many ancient cultures of the world. Its shape symbolizes the entire cosmos, with the dome-shaped back representing the sky, the body the earth, and the undershell the water.

A popular myth within Japanese culture is the story of ‘’The Two Cranes and the Tortoise’’.

Once, a turtle and two cranes lived beside a river.
One bad year, there was no rain.
The cranes wanted to find another place to live in.
The turtle could not follow the cranes as he could not fly.

Suddenly, an idea struck the turtle’s mind.

 

” Get a long, strong stick. You two hold each of it with your beaks

and I will hold on to the middle of the stick, “ said the turtle.

” Wonderful idea!” said the cranes.

The cranes found a long, strong stick.

 

” Please don’t open your mouth along the way, “ said the cranes to the turtles.

” Of course, I won’t, “ said the turtle.


So, off they flew. They flew passed hills, valley and rivers.
They also flew passed a group of farmers.

 

” Hello! “ greeted the turtle and down he fell and died.

 

Although abrupt the moral of the story is that of those who forget the advice of friends, lands in trouble.

 

For more information please contact: collections@museumsnorthumberland.org.uk