Taotie Mask With Incised Designs


Taotie Mask with Incised Designs, 1600–1046 BCE Shang Dynasty or 1046–256 BCE Zhou Dynasty

  • On View


Dimensions: 8 × 8 × 1/8 in. (20.3 × 20.3 × 0.3 cm)

Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, New York, 2014.25

The taotie mask is a motif commonly found on bronze objects from the Shang and Zhou Dynasty. Taotie masks often included bulbous eyes, stylized eyebrows, a rigged nose, and curled mouth with exposed teeth. The name taotie, translated as gluttonous ogre, may have been inspired by the fact that the creature is portrayed as an ever-devouring beast. The specific meaning of the taotie motif is unknown; however, it may be a symbolic representation of the forces of nature.The Taotie, sometimes translated as a gluttonous ogre mask, is a motif commonly found on ritual bronze vessels from the Shang and Zhou Dynasty. The design typically consists of a zoomorphic mask, described as being frontal, bilaterally symmetrical, with a pair of raised eyes and typically no lower jaw area. The design can be traced back to Neolithic jades of the ancient Yangtze River Liangzhu culture (3310–2250 BCE).

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