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Animal Mask (Taotie)

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
One of the most common decorative motifs on ritual bronzes and jades is the taotie mask. The animal here has large bulging eyes with small eyebrows surmounted by horns. Between the eyes is a protruding nose, revealing the seams of the piecemolds, and below are menacing jaws and fangs. The name taotie was given to this monster mask in the later Zhou dynasty (circa 1050–256 B.C.E.) and translates as “glutton,” perhaps referring to its evocation of a devouring beast. The Northern Wei dynasty transformed the taotie mask, which is now depicted with a creature, part-human and part-demon, grabbing the horns of the beast.
MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES ca. 6th century
    DYNASTY Northern Wei Dynasty
    PERIOD Northern Wei Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS width: 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2013.65
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Stanley J. Love and Mrs. Walter N. Rothschild, by exchange, Frank L. Babbott Fund, Museum Collection Fund, and Designated Purchase Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT
    CAPTION Animal Mask (Taotie), ca. 6th century. Bronze, width: 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Stanley J. Love and Mrs. Walter N. Rothschild, by exchange, Frank L. Babbott Fund, Museum Collection Fund, and Designated Purchase Fund, 2013.65 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2013.65_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 2013.65_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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     <em>Animal Mask (Taotie)</em>, ca. 6th century. Bronze, width: 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Stanley J. Love and Mrs. Walter N. Rothschild, by exchange, Frank L. Babbott Fund, Museum Collection Fund, and Designated Purchase Fund, 2013.65 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2013.65_PS9.jpg)