Patterns Of Taotie Images
Taotie rubbing from a Bronze Vessel Drawing of an Yi vessel of the tomb o
<f Queen Fuhao of Shang Design from a Jellinge Nordic art object The Taotie pattern came up already in the Erlitou culture when jade objects like daggers, axes, disks and scepters were decorated with fabulous animals with fierce teeth and claws, sharp horns, tails and legs.

One of the great mysteries of ancient China is the origin and meaning of the terrifying animal faces on Shang ritual vessels.Those faces are just as awe and terror-inspiring as they were duing the bloddy sacrifices of the Shang. Taotie is man-eating beast that harms people. The ferocious look of the face would seem to confirm this hypothesis.

The taotie occurs on ritual bronze vessels used for sacrifices, which sometimes included human sacrifices as well, there may/might be to be some connection to death or the afterworld. It is said taotie guards the entrance to the world of death, or that the taotie is the one who escorts the spirits to their destinaiton. Some said the taotie monsters were very voracious, and therefore the Chinese caracters for "Taotie" contain the character for "eat".

The taotie has horns and  fangs.Sometimes it looks like a raging bull, or more like a tiger.It is just like a mixture of different kinds of animals which combined into a dreadful mixture.The staring eyes of taotie watch over the slaughtering of the sacrificial victims.

 During Zhou times, the fierce looking animals became dragons with button-like staring eyes. Until the Han dynasty, the former compact monsters transformed into slim and friendly dragons. Sometimes the intertwined bodies of the Taotie remind of the lion patterns of Nordic art (see an example of Jellinge art) or the Maya glyphic art (see the face of the raingod Chac).