Warring States Period (戰國時代), 480-220 B.C.
Height: 4 3/4 inches (26 cm.)
Width: 3 inches (30.5 cm.)
This remarkable pair of bronze handle fittings demonstrates the importance of symbolism and imagination during the Warring States period. The handles were almost certainly meant to be attached to a larger vessel most likely for ritual use. Each handle consists of a taotie head with wide-open eyes and elongated horns emerging from the side of the head. A metal flange serves as a finial at the back of the mounting.
There are subtle stylistic elements which suggest a Warring States date for this pair. The shape of the mounting arms are faceted and show a typical mounting hole at the base. The facial elements of the eyes, eyebrows and horns are exaggerated which is consistent with scientifically excavated bronzes of the period. There is extensive alteration to the surface resulting in a beautiful blue-green coloration. This process of alteration is consistent with other examples of the period.
In our opinion, the pair of bronze fittings is an example of the superb quality of stylistic design and workmanship of the Warring States period.
Reference Number 2699
For an example of a vase with similar metal handles present, see Zhongguo wenwu jinghua daiquan: qing tongqi, Masterpieces of Chinese Cultural Treasures: Bronzes. Ma Chengyuan, editor. Hong Kong, Commercial Press, 1994. Page 244.
For a jade talisman with a Taotie mask of the period with similar elements see Chinese Art from Distant Centuries. Sam Bernstein, S. Bernstein & Co. San Francisco, 1994. Plate 8.