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 wine vessel, or you, with taotie mask pattern

  • loan



  • 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 piece is of oval section, with a broad pear-shaped body tapering towards the rim and a high flaring foot. The cover fits over the rim and continues the curved outline of the vessel, its wide domed top is slightly protruding and fitted with a bud-shaped knob. The sides have curved lugs, which are linked with ring-shaped terminals of an arched swing handle. The piece is decorated with a large taotie mask on either side, with prominent eyes, a central hooked ridge, curved angled horns, snout with fangs, and further curved features, flanked by two small stylized dragon motifs and with dragon borders above and below. The borders have pairs of dragons confronted on a small feline mask with curved horns at the shoulder, and on a hooked flange at the foot. The cover is very similarly decorated with animal masks on top, flanked by small scroll motifs, and dragons with more elongated scrollwork bodys around a hooked flange at the sides. Similar elongated dragon motifs are also seen on the handle. All motifs are raised on a plain ground. Two further taotie motifs are found on the base underneath. The piece has a nearly black patina with areas of thick green encrustation.

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