Animal Mask Design


Most books on bronzes in the Song and succeeding dynasties used the term Taotie - a terrifying tabled cannibal beast - to name all animal mask designs on bronze vessels. This term has been abandoned because of many scholars' disapproval. The chief characteristic of animal mask design is the symmetrical layout of the face, using nose as the central line. Apart from the commonly seen horns and bulging eyes, these designs may also have eyebrows, open mouths and fangs. Its mystical, awe-inspiring form reflects the ancestors' belief in spirits.