In the beginning, bronze mirrors had a very low and rough quality. However, during the Warring States, Western and Eastern Han dynasties, these mirrors qualities had improved considerably.
Like its glass counterpart, the bronze mirror is smoothly polished on one side to reflect the image of its user. The other side is decorated with inscriptions and adorned with carvings, thus turning it into a valuable art object. During the time of the Warring States, the mirror had a ring of decorations such as animal masks, dragons or flowers. When the Western Han phase begun the mirror became thicker with supernatural beings and geometric patterns. Apart from pictures, the mirrors were also beginning to contain inscribed words which stated emotions like "keep me in mind, forget me not." By the 10th century this mirror's shape began to change. It could be round or oblong and also be with or without handles.
Bronze mirrors were found in the tombs of individuals living in Ancient China. These mirrors were said to represent love for the Chinese living in those times. As a love token, these mirrors were buried in tombs to ensure that the love was carried on in the afterworld. The belief held by the people of Ancient China meant that there a life in the hereafter. The soul was believed to live on after death. However, the trip to the afterlife meant that the dead would have to drink a potion. This potion was responsible for making them forget the memories of their lifetime. Couples who wished to remain together were buried with a half of the mirror. When they entered the afterworld, they would meet and match their mirrors. This allowed them to live their lives together. Thus, the bronze mirror was a symbol of love which allowed devoted couples to remain together during their lifetime and the love to prevail in the hereafter.
The bronze mirror has been found in tombs and graves of many of those belonging to the Ancient Chinese civilization. This is because the mirror did not symbolize love alone. Some mirrors have been placed on top of burial chambers or at the four corners of a coffin. With placing like this it is evident that the mirror is sought to provide protection to those under it. The mirror was viewed as a spiritual entity. It was thought to assume a power that could ward of danger. Thus, by placing it on gravesites and tombs, those living in Ancient China hoped to discard and remove evil spirits that might threaten or endanger their paths.
Another feature of the mirror was its ability to differentiate the corrupt from the honest. This was especially so because of the number of officials who worked in the Imperial courts in Ancient China. These individuals would be dishonest and create a deterrent for the ruling King to be successful. An Ancient Chinese myth claimed that the mirror could show the true divinity of the soul. While it was not helpful in removing the fraudulent officials of court, it was still held with the greatest regard by the people of the time. Thus, the mirror was also viewed as an object that did not merely reflect the physical image of its looker but also the spiritual essence of his soul. It was responsible for showing not only the faults of the gazer but also the knowledge he possessed. The mirror was felt to see the individual in their entirety.
Bronze mirrors are found in various museums today and are a valued item