Eskimo Art Prototypes in the Chinese Neolithic

A Comparison of Okvik/Old Bering Sea and Liangzhu Ritual Art

in Sibirica
Author: Feng Qu
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One of the central decorative features of the Okvik/Old Bering Sea (OBS) Eskimo art is a theriomorphic design with an eyelike circle-dot motif. Seventy-five years ago, Henry B. Collins proposed the resemblance between OBS animal motifs and the Taotie (or t'ao t'ieh) faces on Chinese Shang and Zhou bronze wares. However, today his conclusion is based on outdated archaeological data. New evidence in recent decades indicates that the Chinese Bronze Age Taotie originated from mask-like imagery on jade objects of the Liangzhu Neolithic culture, third millennium BC in the Lower Yangtze River region. Comparative studies suggest more similarities in artistic designs between Okvik/OBS and Liangzhu jade than between Okvik/OBS culture and the Shang/Zhou Bronze Age cultures. The prototype theriomorphic design in Okvik/OBS Eskimo art, therefore, may originate from Liangzhu rather than from Shang and Zhou.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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