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Tile End with Stylized Taotie Mask 变形饕餮纹半瓦当

Tile End with Stylized Taotie Mask
Pottery Designs from the State of Yan in the Warring States Period 战国燕

It is hard to tell without a context, but this tile is huge in comparison to the normal roof tile. It measures 36 centimeters (14.17 inches) on the diameter. Normal tiles measure 7 to 10 inches. This huge Tao Tie tile was excavated from the ruins of the Yan capital. It was nicknamed the king of Yan capital tile because of its size.

Research showed that it was a decorative tile on the end of the palace wall, not a roof tile to protect the rafter or to decorate the eaves. On the tile, two facing tigers change into Tao Tie eyebrows, which was a more powerful and ferocous being. Because of its size and the excellent glazing it is easier to see the Tao Tie features embedded in to overall curly-cue design.

According the the museum, the tile reminds people of the sad story: "The wind is whistling and pattering, the Yi River water is icy. The young warrior is leaving his home and is walking on the road of no return." A poem from the novel A Dream of Red Mansions: "Unexpectedly the tile is like bronze, the impressive and dignified manner of the warrior it takes, the legend of Taotie is passed on and on, but it never shows what it really looks like."

China Index >> Historical Beijing in Pictures >> Neolithic and Early Dynasty Pottery and Roof Tiles

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Last update: September 2013
© Marilyn Shea, 2013