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Zoomorphic Creatures in Ancient Chinese Art

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Language Arts And English +2 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

What can we learn about ancient China by studying artifacts?  What does the intricate detail of works of art suggest about values and beliefs in ancient China?  In this Learning Lab Collection, students will study ancient Chinese works of art via Project Zero Thinking Routines.  Working in groups, students will be assigned to either research ancient Chinese bronze bells or ancient Chinese bronze vessels and make inferences about ancient Chinese values and beliefs based on their research.  Then, inspired by taotie, mask-like design patterns of ancient Chinese bronze objects, students will etch their own zoomorphic creatures into metal foil.

This Learning Lab Collection contains a lesson plan, images to research, Thinking Routines, design worksheet, and sample final artwork.  Download the pdf Lesson Plan located in the "Teacher Materials and Lesson Plan" section first for instructions and art materials needed.

Tags:  metalwork; etch; repoussé; vessels; bells; ritual; Shang; Zhou; dynasty; China; composite animals

Lidded ritual wine container (you) with taotie and dragons

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Look to the Right: Group Discussion

Freer|Sackler Education

Square lidded ritual wine container (fangyi) with taotie, serpents, and birds

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Look to the Right: Bronze Vessels

Freer|Sackler Education

Ritual food serving vessel (jing gui)

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Ritual grain server (gui) with taotie and dragons

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Ritual wine warmer (jia) with taotie

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Lidded ritual wine warmer (jiao) with taotie

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Ritual wine warmer with taotie

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Square lidded wine ewer (fangguang) with taotie, dragons, and birds

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Look to the Right: Bronze Bells

Freer|Sackler Education

Clapper bell (ling) with taotie masks

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Hollow shaft bell (nao) with taotie masks from a set

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Hollow shaft bell (nao) with taotie masks from a set

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Hollow shaft bell (nao) with taotie masks and dragons

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Bell (bo) with taotie mask, birds, and tigers

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Bell (bo) with taotie masks and birds

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Look to the Right: Teacher Materials

Freer|Sackler Education

Zoomorphic Creature Lesson Plan

Freer|Sackler Education

Student Activity Sheets

Freer|Sackler Education

What Makes You Say That?: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

See/Think/Wonder: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Looking: Ten Times Two: Project Zero Artful Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Think Pair Share Routine: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Look to the Right: Sample Artwork

Freer|Sackler Education

Activity Sheet Step 1

Freer|Sackler Education

Activity Sheet Step 2a

Freer|Sackler Education

Activity Sheet Step 2b

Freer|Sackler Education

Activity Sheet Step 3a

Freer|Sackler Education

Activity Sheet Step 3b

Freer|Sackler Education

Activity Sheet Step 4

Freer|Sackler Education

Tracing Zoomorphic Design

Freer|Sackler Education

Embossing (Front)

Freer|Sackler Education

Embossing (Back)

Freer|Sackler Education

Completed embossing!

Freer|Sackler Education

Look to the Right: Resources

Freer|Sackler Education

Glossary and Pronunciation Guide

Freer|Sackler Education

Taotie Line Drawing

Freer|Sackler Education