I have recently acquired the melongs pictured for ritual use. These are antique or reproduction Japanese, I believe.
Whilst I use the term ‘shamanic’ the mirrors have a use and significance extending into more formalised religions and practices which also have their roots in the HImalayas.
Bronze mirrors were widespread in use before the advent of mirror glass. In Tibet and other countries they are still used for divination, such as ‘ta’. The concave surface is sometimes decorated and the convex outer surface is polished and mostly plain.
Melongs were traditionally made with 5 Metals: copper, tin, zinc, iron and a fifth metal which may be gold, silver or ‘meteorite iron’. This may represent the elements or have astrological significance, or simply be because it made bowls and bells sound wonderful, and those instruments were re-used to make melongs.
The convex side is shown on the outside when worn. Shamans may have a coat partially covered with these mirrors – to deflect ‘evil’ negative energy away using the convex side, and using the concave side to concentrate the positive energy of deities and spirits to help a person who is ill, perhaps touched onto the body or moved over the painful area. The mirror is also used to bless substances such as water, poured over the mirror as it reflects the image of a nearby deity, for example, or by immersing the blessed mirror in the liquid. :
The Melong used in Tibet is frequently plain on the concave side and on the convex side has a pattern of dots or circles. There are usually 4 sets of 3 dots at each quarter (top, bottom, left and right) which may represent some of the sets of 3 used in Dzogchen, a practice within both Bon and Buddhism:
POSSIBLE GROUPS OF 3 IN THE MELONG:
In Dzogchen the Melong is representative of the primordial state we can discover within ourselves, as a potentiality, and is OM. In the same way, the peacock’s feather is the natural representation of the Thigle colours and rays of the natural state of AH, and the crystal represents primordiality, manifested in stable contemplation eternally as HUM.
Guru’s Body Speech and Mind
The 3 Jewels – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
Base – Essence, Nature and Energy
or Base, Path and Fruit
Three Wisdoms – Sound, Light, Rays
I recently went on a quest on find my own melong. I bought a few on the internet, as above, but wanted to follow tradition and ‘find’ one that spoke to me, as it were. Tradition is that you either have one passed down to you, ‘acquire’ one from a burial or go on a quest.
Well, I couldn’t afford a trip to the Himalayas so I set about it by asking for the help of a deity. I then travelled to Glastonbury, which has some suppliers of Tibetan goods – no joy. Then, one Saturday I was wandering about the Saturday market in Bath and found a small stall run by a couple who collected artefacts to sell to fund their trips to the Himalayas each year. ‘My’ melong was staring me in the face. 🙂
It has since been purified and blessed many times and worn constantly. Here is a picture as I found it and after a light clean-up:
EDIT 13.12.12 :
An article is now available online which is very informative and useful. Here is the link:
how did you clean it?
Fyre Shaman said:
Usually with Brasso and a soft cloth. Bronze is easily scratched. Some mirrors I do not polish – I leave them with the ‘patina’ they have formed and just wash them occasionally.