An eccentric combination of four masks occurs on this bronze. A forceful t'ao-t'ieh head with recumbent C-shaped horns, the borders decorated with straight and T-shaped scores, appears on one side of the top. This monster bites on a human head with the broad nose typical of many early masks. On the other side a ram's head, with horns turned down, bites on a head resembling a t'ao-t'ieh but with a raised elephant's trunk instead of the usual ridge in the central line. This remarkable and unusual piece is a powerful example of early Chinese sculpture. Patina green.

Pole finial, 12th-11th century BCE

Unknown artist, expand_more

Bronzeexpand_more

Bequest of Alfred F. Pillsburyexpand_more  50.46.29

G214expand_more

A combination of four masks appears on this bronze finial, which originally adorned the end of a pole. A forceful taotie (composite animal) mask with downward-facing C-shaped horns appears on one side of the top. This monster’s face forms a mask on a human head; it has the broad nose typical of early masks. On the other side, a ram’s head, with horns turned down, bites on a head resembling a taotie. This remarkable work demonstrates that men wore zoomorphic masks in ritual ceremony.

Details
Title
Pole finial
Role
Artist
Accession Number
50.46.29
Curator Approved

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An eccentric combination of four masks occurs on this bronze. A forceful t'ao-t'ieh head with recumbent C-shaped horns, the borders decorated with straight and T-shaped scores, appears on one side of the top. This monster bites on a human head with the broad nose typical of many early masks. On the other side a ram's head, with horns turned down, bites on a head resembling a t'ao-t'ieh but with a raised elephant's trunk instead of the usual ridge in the central line. This remarkable and unusual piece is a powerful example of early Chinese sculpture. Patina green.