Was it Love or Witchcraft? The Magical Practices of Chinese Empress Chen Jiao

Was it Love or Witchcraft? The Magical Practices of Chinese Empress Chen Jiao

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(a) Convex reflecting face of magic mirror. (b) Pattern embossed on back face of magic mirror.

(a) Convex reflecting face of magic mirror. (b) Pattern embossed on back face of magic mirror. ( M V Berry )

These mysterious artifacts are some of the fascinating magical pieces from Asia. However, the practice of using a “magic mirror” seems to have a strong basis in an unexpected discipline – mathematics. Researchers have to use very sophisticated mathematics to create calculations that explain what happened during the process described above.

Victim of Gossip or a Real Ancient Witch?

Legends say Empress Chen of Wu was a powerful Chinese witch. People who practice witchcraft in China today still consider her their ancestor. Her deposition for committing witchcraft remains the last episode of a series of unexplained events in her life. Did she put a charm on the Emperor to save her life? Or were his mercy and heart so huge that he decided to not sentence her to death? This part of the story will never be known for certain. But the fame of Empress Chen Jiao as a witch remains unquestionable.

Eastern Han Dynasty sculpture of a woman with a mirror.

Eastern Han Dynasty sculpture of a woman with a mirror. ( Public Domain )

Top image: Actress Shen Miao as Empress Chen Jiao from the drama ‘The Virtuous Queen of Han.’ Source: cfensi

By Natalia Klimczak


Bennet Peterson, Barbara, Notable Women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century, 2000.

Creation of Lesser Gods: The World of Daoist Magic, available at:

Recent advances in understanding the mystery of Ancient Chinese ''magic mirrors'', available at:

Oriental magic mirrors and the Laplacian image by M. V. Berry, available at:

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