The Cincinnati Art Museum had a 600-year-old "magic mirror" in its archives containing a hidden image that only showed up when light hit it
· Jul 13, 2022 ·

Every amateur archeologist in the world knows the famous story of the negative photograph of the Shroud of Turin. Modestly less impressive yet still pretty neat is the negative mirror image of the Mirror of Cincinnati:

While researching so-called "magic mirrors" -- rare ancient mirrors that, in certain light, reveal images or patterns hidden on their reflective surfaces -- the [Cincinnati Art Museum's] curator of East Asian art, Hou-mei Sung, saw something resembling the examples from Edo-period Japan.

The item in storage in Cincinnati, Ohio, was smaller than the ones held in museums in Tokyo, Shanghai and New York City. It also featured a more complex style of Chinese script. Yet, Sung recalled there was something "very similar" about it.

So, last spring, she visited the museum's storage rooms accompanied by a conservation expert.

"I asked her to shine a strong, focused light on the mirror," Sung said on a video call from Cincinnati. "So, she used her cell phone (flashlight) and it worked."

Folks in Cincinnati be shining light on buried treasure like:

And what did the light reveal, you ask??

On the wall before them was the appearance of texture in the reflected light -- not a distinct image, but enough to warrant further investigation. Following experiments using more powerful and focused lights, the mirror eventually revealed the image of a Buddha, rays of light emanating from his seated form.

See for yourself!

Pretty good historical detective work. I'm gonna be shining my phone light on everything from now on!

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