Lot 156. A fine pair of bronze taotie-mask loose-ring handles, Warring States (475-221 BCE); 3 1/8in (7.8cm) high, the taotie, 5in (12.6cm) high overall. Sold for US$ 2,550 (€ 2,172). © Bonhams 2001-2021
Each crisply cast in low relief with multi-ridged eyebrows centered by an unusual chequered-pattern cylinder below two curling horns, the beak curled under to support the solid ring, the side edges of the masks with tightly-scrolled tufts and crests, the reverse with a thick projecting pin from the center of the back for mounting, all under a soft silvery-green patina.
Note: For another much larger bronze single taotie-mask handle and ring, see J.J. Lally, Oriental Art, Archaic Chinese Bronzes, Jades and Works of Art, June 1994, New York, no. 64. Whilst the scale is completely different, the detailing is not. Both exhibit carefully and crisply cast and incised fur-like markings around the face. A pair of smaller gilt-bronze mask handles closer in overall profile to ours were sold at Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 28/29th November 2019. The inclusion of cylinder-like ornamentation between the eyebrows appears to be unique. For a single example see Andre Leth, Kinesisk Kunst (Catalogue of Selected Objects of Chinese Art in the Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen), 1959, no. 22.
See also another pair sold at Sotheby's, New York, 1 June 1994, lot 439 and later illustrated as an example of archaic types in regard to a pair of important silver door handles made in the Palace Workshops for the Qianlong emperor's study in the Yuanmingyuan complex, see Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 April 2003, lot 34, fig.1.