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Taotie (饕餮)

Chinese. Name of a ferocious mythological animal, the fifth son of the Dragon King (fig.). He is often found portrayed on ritual bronze objects, such as certain Chinese ritual vessels, known as ding (鼎) or yi, most commonly in the form of a zoomorphic mask motif, i.e. a mask-like creature represented as a face with two horns and a wide mouth without a lower jaw, similar to kirtimukha (fig.) in India, kala or kala face (fig.) in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, and reminiscent of the balu pan gai motifs (fig.) in Myanmar. In English, it is sometimes referred to as Monster of Greed. Since it has a head but no body, it cannot swallow anyone when it eats people, but instead harms them. The design can allegedly be traced back to jade pieces found in Neolithic sites and is occasionally still used today, e.g. on the front of the fifth series of Chinese banknotes of 20 Yuan, in use since 1999, printed between the watermark and the depiction of Mao Zedong.