St Nicholas Church of EnglandPrimary Academy


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Art and Design


Vocabulary: gluttonous, mythology, dings, motif, mould, cast


A taotie is a gluttonous creature in Chinese mythology, which is always hungry no matter how much it eats. Its name translates to ‘legendary voracious beast’. Images of taotie appear on ancient Chinese bronze artefacts, such as masks and ritual vessels called dings. It is unclear why the people of the Shang Dynasty used the taotie motif. It could have symbolised greed, warned people against seeking wealth and power or helped priests and shamans to communicate with dead ancestors during religious rituals.

This project teaches children about the significance and art of the taotie motif, including ancient and contemporary casting methods.

Taotie Casts


We learnt that in Ancient China, items were made using bronze, creating a mould then using the bronze to cast a new object.  We also learnt that items were decorated using the Taotie, which always had two eyes on the artwork. Next we experimented with casting by creating our own mould out of clay then pouring plaster of Paris into our moulds.  The trickiest part was separating the cast from the clay!