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Image of Fragment of a Taotie Mask

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Fragment of a Taotie Mask

1050 BCE - 256 BCE

6 5/8 in. x 3 1/4 in. (16.83 cm x 8.26 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: TN.31
Geography: Asia, China
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Masks
Culture/Nationality: Chinese

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • Asian - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Asia, which is in the eastern hemisphere, and is bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, and is generally considered to be delimited on the west by the Ural Mountains. It also refers to the numerous islands off the coast of Asia.
  • bronzes - Collectively, the class of sculptures, containers, or other objects executed in bronze, especially artifacts or works considered to be art. When possible, use the material term "bronze (metal)" plus a more specific object name, such as "bronze" + "figurines" or "bronze" + "bowl."
  • Chinese - The cultures, styles, and periods characteristic of China. To specifically refer to the cultures of ancient Chine, use "Ancient Chinese."
  • fragments - Portions of objects that are torn, broken off from, or dislocated from their original whole.
  • inscriptions - Words, texts, lettering, or symbols marked on a work, including texts, legends, documentation notes, or commemoration. For standardized symbols or notations on objects that convey official information, use "marks (symbols)."
  • masks - Refers to coverings for all or part of the face, usually with openings for the eyes and sometimes the mouth. They are worn to hide or alter the identity of the wearer or for protection. Masks as cultural objects have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age. Masks are extremely varied in appearance, function, and fundamental meaning. They may be associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. They may be used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. They may be used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports. They are also employed as architectural ornaments.
  • Zhou - Refers to the the culture, style, and period of the Zhou dynasty, a period spanning ca. 1050 to 256 BCE. The Zhou dynasty succeeded the Shang dynasty. The area ruled by the Zhous was very large but their rule was not direct and so was often challenged. The Zhou period is divided into the Western Zhou (ca. 1050-771 BCE) and the Eastern Zhou (771-256 BCE). There was a great deal of regional diversity in the Zhou period, but overall it was a time of noteworthy political, philosophical, religious, and social changes. Many basic Chinese traditions were established and the earliest Chinese literature dates from the Zhou period, including the writing of Confucius. The population increased at this time and iron tools became more widespread, leading to agricultural advances. The rise of a merchant class and the development of coinage created a bigger market for artistic wares, of which bronzes remained the most important, becoming more secular and serving as symbols of status, wealth, and authority. Longer inscriptions are found on Zhou bronzes and are now valuable records of early Chinese history. The decoration of bronzes became more abstract, geometric, and colorful with an increased use of relief and precious inlay. The many small states of the Zhou dynasty became virtually independent of central authority and it was the Qin who eventually defeated the other states to establish the first unified Chinese rule.

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image TN.31_BMC_f.jpg

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • Charles Fabens and Ch'En Meng-Chia Kelley. Chinese Bronzes from the Buckingham Collection (Chicago, Illinois: Art Institute of Chicago, 1946), Figure Number: Plate No. XL.
  • "The British Museum Online Collection." (Accessed May 17, 2020): Accession No. 1961,1218.1.

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Fragment of a Taotie Mask |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=6/5/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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