What Were Mirrors Used for in Ancient Times?

Mirrors have been around for thousands of years and have played an important role in societies throughout history. In ancient times, mirrors were used for a variety of purposes, from personal grooming to religious ceremonies. Let’s take a closer look at the different ways mirrors were used in ancient times.

Personal Grooming

One of the primary uses of mirrors in ancient times was for personal grooming. Mirrors were made from a variety of materials, including polished bronze and obsidian. In ancient Egypt, mirrors were often made from highly polished copper or bronze and were considered luxury items that only the wealthy could afford.

In Greece and Rome, mirrors were also made from polished metal, but they were smaller and more portable than their Egyptian counterparts. Women would use these small handheld mirrors to apply makeup and fix their hair.

Religious Ceremonies

In many ancient cultures, mirrors held spiritual significance and were used in religious ceremonies. In China, for example, mirrors were believed to have magical powers and were used in Taoist rituals to ward off evil spirits.

Similarly, in ancient Mexico, Aztec priests used obsidian mirrors during religious ceremonies to communicate with the gods. It was believed that by gazing into the mirror’s reflective surface, they could see visions of the divine.

Artistic Expression

Mirrors also played a role in artistic expression in ancient times. In Egypt, for example, artists would use highly polished copper or bronze sheets as a surface on which to paint portraits or scenes from daily life.

In Renaissance Europe, artists like Jan van Eyck would use convex mirrors as a way to capture distorted reflections of their subjects. This technique gave their paintings a unique sense of depth and realism.


From personal grooming to religious rituals to artistic expression, mirrors have had many uses throughout history. Though the materials and techniques used to create mirrors have evolved over time, their enduring popularity is a testament to their usefulness and versatility. Whether we use them to check our appearance, communicate with the divine, or create art, mirrors will likely remain an important part of human culture for centuries to come.

  • Personal grooming was one of the primary uses of mirrors in ancient times.
  • Mirrors were also used in religious ceremonies in many ancient cultures.
  • Artists throughout history have used mirrors as a tool for creative expression.


  • https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/magic-mirrors-yokai-japanese-folklore-009550
  • https://www.britannica.com/technology/mirror-optics/Historical-development-of-mirrors#ref24957
  • https://www.ancient.eu/mirror/