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Taotie Patterns (饕餮)

Brief: Design a kind of Chinese traditional pattern in a modern way

Field: Graphic Design

Role: Individual Work

Duration: 3 weeks | 2015

Getting Inspired
Getting Inspired

When I visited Shanxi Provincial Museum, I was fascinated by a kind of pattern-taotie sculpted on ancient Chinese bronze vessels and bricks.  These patterns conveyed a strong emotion and a distinct design characteristic which thrilled me.


Taotie is known as a greedy and gluttonous beast with a history more than 5000 years. Taotie is one of the famous monsters in Chinese traditional mythology and is a common motif of ceremonious wares. The meaning of taotie is still under debate. Most scholars favor an interpretation that supports the idea that the faces have meaning in a religious or ceremonial context, as the objects they appear on are almost always associated with such events or roles. (Reference: Wikipedia). Some scholars think taotie expresses people's voracity of wealth and power.

Traditional Taotie Patterns

These patterns were popular in ancient times, nevertheless, nowadays we cannot see them frequently and thousands of Chinese people even have no idea about tatie patterns. What a pity! So I want to redesign taotie patterns by a modern digital method to introduce them to more people. Besides, I hope that the traditional pattern can be applied to more scenarios


Our historic heritage should not be forgotten, whose historical significance should be remembered. At meanwhile, we can also deliberate it from a modern perspective and endow it with new energy. 

Design Process
Design Process

Distinguishable Features

Traditional & Popular 

Rough Draft

Chinese Traditional Colors

Final Graphics


These patterns can be applied  to everyday objects such as phone cases or T-shirts.

Since these patterns have comparatively fixed elements as I showed above, it is possible to design a smartphone application for kids. They could learn some knowledge about  Taotie and use these key elements to create their own patterns. I had drawn an outline of it.

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