Taocy is a motif commonly used on the Chinese ritual bronze vases of the Shang and Zhou dynasty. The design usually consists of a zoomorphic mask, described as frontal, bilateral symmetry, with a pair of raised eyes and generally without area of the lower jaw. Some claim that the design can be attributed to jade pieces found in Neolithic sites such as the Liangzhu culture (3310-2250 BC).
In ancient Chinese mythology as "classic of mountains and seas," taotie (饕餮) is one of the "four evil creatures of the world," as are Hundun (混沌), Qiongqi (窮奇) and Taowu (梼杌). On the other side, there are four holy creatures in Chinese mythology called Azure Dragon, Vermilion Bird, White Tiger and Black Turtle. The four are also sometimes friends and juxtapose with the four benevolent animals that are Qilin (麒麟), Dragon (龍), Turtle (龜) and Fenghuang (鳳凰).
The taotie motif is a stylized and symmetrical representation of an imaginary animal, borrowing some of its features from the dragon. Some other aspects are similar to tigers, or even beef or sheep. The animal is described as a ferocious,, globular-eyed creature under thick eyebrows, with half a jaw adorned with sharp fangs (the lower jaw is absent). The term tao tie is sometimes rendered by "glutton", also known for its voracity.
It can be observed in two ways:
or like two kui dragons faced, muzzle against snout, seen in profile. They then have only one leg, and their tails draw a volute.
either like a mask, with globular eyes, horns, fangs, a jaw, ...
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