Talks cont’d. : Makyoh Images

Makyoh (Japanese for “Magic Mirror”) are made of highly mirror-polished metal (usually brass) on the front face and engraved on the back face. From what I understand, it is currently commercially available as toys! Also, check out Makyoh in Action. Making these “Magic mirrors” often involved much intuition and skill in the past.

Now the basic idea behind the working of Makyoh is as follows: –


The front mirror side is illuminated by a parallel light beam, and the reflected beam is intersected by a screen. If the surface possesses “irregularities”, the homogeneity of the reflected beam is perturbed and an image that can be related the surface morphology (I would assume some mapping function of sorts) appears on the screen. This “mapped” function is then called magical! In principle, there should be some sensitivity bound for the the roughness of the mirror-side.

The talk focused on attempting to digitize the craftsmanship of the early Makyoh workers using NC machining. All the steps involved in making Makyoh namely forming, casting, taking the pattern away and polishing were performed. Optimal machining conditions were identified first using a single drill hole and later on, using a series of drilled holes.

The reason why I find this interesting is that this problem in a way represented the reverse problem of Makyoh topography which has been used to characterize the flatness of semiconductor wafers for some years now. A scientific work undertaken solely for the purpose of restoring temple architecture seems quite extraordinary.

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4 Comments on “Talks cont’d. : Makyoh Images”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey, nice post! Though I come from a software background I found your posts interesting – also worth noting is the mention of Long Tail at Currently this is the most buzzworthy thing on the blogosphere and I was very amazed to see its presence here as well!

  2. Toddypoo says:

    What a cool toy! I can’t quite figure out the technical stuff, though. I take it that you can’t just have any old engraved or embossed surface reflect things like that, can you? Otherwise the ‘mapping’ function would just be y = x. Since it looks like the slope of the surface is what matters, is it y = f(x’)?

  3. I think it would be a little complicated than that, the image form would probably be pertubed depending on the distance of screen and topography, check out
    for a full explanation. I have added this onto my “papers I should read” list, will get to it some day! 🙂

  4. suhasini says:

    Thanks for your comment Anonymous. I think a lot of research articles currently fall in the long tail to begin with, nevertheless Dr. Suo’s suggestion does seem worth investigating.

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