Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Ritual food vessel, or ding, with taotie mask pattern

  • loan

Glossary (2)

ding, taotie

  • ding

    A Chinese bronze tripod ritual cooking vessel. Also a type of white porcelain from Northern China.

  • taotie

    Stylized monster mask decoration with prominent eyes and scrolling horns. The motif has been known since the 1100s. Its significance remains mysterious.


    • currently in research collection

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Publications online

  • The Barlow Collection by the University of Sussex

    The Barlow Collection

    The wide rounded bowl is slightly lobed and pointed towards three tall columnar legs. The rim has an everted angular flange and two high arched handles. The bowl is decorated with an impressive relief design of three formal animal masks (taotie), each centred on one leg, with a diamond-shaped boss on the forehead and eyes in high relief, and eyebrows, curved horns, muzzle and further curled features symmetrically arranged, all in low relief on a dense leiwen (‘thunder pattern’) ground of scrollwork. The patina is of greenish tone, with the recesses of the design probably deliberately filled in in black, to make the design stand out more clearly. An eight-character inscription is cast inside the vessel, beginning with a clan sign in form of a man in side view, followed by the characters zuo fu gui bao zun yi [made father gui’s precious sacrificial vessel], and followed by another clan sign in form of a man holding up a child.

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