A thousand years ago in China, members of royal families would only marry other royal families. These were always arranged indirectly through a matchmaker, because it was forbidden for young men and women to interact on their own. But true love did sometimes happen. Princess Lechang, ignoring custom, married herself off to a talented scholar Xu, a commoner.
Unfortunately, not long after they married, war broke out.
One day the princess’s husband said to his wife, “In case we become separated by the war, we need to exchanges tokens of our love.”
Xu then took out his family heirloom, a bronze mirror – round to symbolize heaven -- that had witnessed countless moments of their marital bliss by reflecting their happy faces.
To his wife’s surprise, Xu broke the mirror into two halves, then gave one to the princess. “Here, keep this. On the day of our reunion, the two haves will be joined again.”
As predicted, the two were separated by the war. The princess was abducted by the enemy rival country to become one of the King’s many concubines, while Xu was reduced to being a wandering vendor.
One day Princess Lechang’s maid had gone to the market and saw a half bronze mirror for sale inscribed with this poem:
Both the mirror and the person were gone
The half mirror returns but she does not
In my lonely chamber the moon shines.
But the moon goddess is gone.
When the princess got wind of this, she asked her maid to take her half mirror to the vendor. The two halves fit together perfectly and the vendor revealed himself as her husband. The princess begged her captor to release her and he did, because the rejoining of the mirror showed it was heaven’s will that they be reunited.
Ever since, the Chinese use a proverb: “The broken mirror is round again,” to mean love has been restored.